Drew puts on dancing shoes
Right fielder proves nimble at avoiding inside pitches
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew doesn't look anything like Vince Vaughn or Ben Stiller. But if there's ever a sequel to the slapstick comedy "Dodgeball," Drew could probably find himself a part.
When Drew came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning on what was supposed to be a lazy Saturday afternoon in Lakeland, he quickly got the feeling that Tigers reliever Todd Jones viewed him as a human dartboard. Drew wasn't having any of it.
Jones fired three too-close-for-comfort offerings -- the last of which was behind Drew's back. Drew came away from it all without so much as a bruise. Jones was ejected from the game.
"It's one of those things where you've got to be ready," said Drew. "I was just trying to take it like dodgeball. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, I guess. I got out of the way, I guess.
"I was bobbing and weaving. I told [Josh] Beckett not to worry about it. Next time, they're going to have to try to get a guy who's a little slower in the batter's box. I was fleet of foot in there. After the second one came in, I was kind of curious what was going on."
Well, what happened was that Beckett had good life in his arm, but not necessarily the command that he has when he's at his sharpest.
In the bottom of the first, Beckett hit Gary Sheffield on his left armguard. Two innings later, he mislocated a breaking ball that hit Magglio Ordonez in the batting helmet. The last straw for the Tigers came when a high-and-tight pitch by Beckett sailed past the front shoulder of Brandon Inge in the bottom of the fourth.
After the ejection of Jones, Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who was also thrown out of the game, went to the mound. Soon thereafter, a shouting match ensued with Red Sox third-base coach DeMarlo Hale. Both benches and bullpens emptied, but there wound up being no pushes or punches from either side. Order was swiftly restored.
"You know what, it looked to me like Jimmy was aggravated," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It just happens sometimes."
Hale wasn't in the mood to elaborate.
"You saw it on the field," said Hale. "Write what you saw."
Beckett, who got in a shouting match with Phillies slugger Ryan Howard last Spring Training, wasn't all that worked up about the day's events.
"I talked to [home-plate umpire] Larry Vanover," Beckett said. "I was like, 'Come on man, I ain't trying to hit these guys. I'm trying to pitch inside.' I really only hit one guy. Mags got hit with a curveball, [and] it was one of those deals where it just kind of buckled him and he went the wrong way. I was fortunate enough it didn't hit him in the neck or something, [and] it hit him in the helmet."
The biggest beef the Tigers had is they felt Beckett should have stayed away from the inner half of the plate once it became clear he wasn't commanding it.
"The thing is, it's Spring Training," Sheffield said. "We know Magglio got hit with a curveball. Obviously, you can't try to hit somebody with a curveball. But the fact of the matter is you hit key guys in the lineup in RBI situations, and you hit a couple guys in Spring Training, people are going to get [mad]. And that's all skip was saying, too. You're going to get [mad], regardless of if you try to [hit somebody] or not. Go to something else. Pitch away if you don't have control."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.