BOSTON -- Stephen Drew entered play Sunday night hitting .333 with a .914 OPS in August, and the production has been rewarded with more opportunities.
While Drew was being sat fairly consistently against left-handed pitching for much of the season, he hasn't missed a game in August. Manager John Farrell has shown trust in his shortstop, particularly with the departure of Jose Iglesias to the Tigers.
Even though Drew is still hitting just .198 on the year against left-handers, his at-bats against them have shown much improvement of late, and it's contributing to overall success.
"He's had consistent at-bats against righties and lefties, probably over the past two to three weeks," Farrell said. "I think if you ask anybody, if you're going to see [lefties] more, they've got a current reference on how to address guys. It might be the arm-slot-type guys, where we might look to take a day where he might get a down day, but I think just consistent at-bats, rhythm, timing, seeing left-handers -- all that goes into the potential of being more successful."
Drew is also getting used to the new competition. He spent the first seven years of his Major League career with the Diamondbacks, almost exclusively facing National League pitchers before he was traded to the A's last summer.
"I think pitchers normally have more of an advantage on a hitter when a hitter hasn't faced a pitcher before," Drew said. "The arm slot and all the variables go into it. And with the scouting they got these days, boy, it's not like when I first came up. It's even more advanced now. So I think it's just more or less hitting your pitch."
And opposing pitchers this season have stopped giving Drew the fastballs he loves to pound into right-field bleachers. While he considers himself a fastball-hitter ("Who isn't?" he says), Drew has seen just 54.8 percent fastballs this season, according to fangraphs.com, as opposed to 60.6 percent last season.
Instead of fastballs, he's seen a steady dose of offspeed pitches, particularly sliders and changeups that force Drew to reach outside of the zone. He's striking out at a career-high rate, 25.5 percent of his at-bats, but he's made late-season adjustments that have allowed him to find success.
"Everybody is going to pitch you differently, no matter what," Drew said. "It depends on how you're doing.
"You look at [David Ortiz's ] at-bats, he gets pitched way differently than everybody else. Everybody is different. It's a game of adjustments, and you have to adjust in the at-bat. They're still going to pitch you the way they think they can get you out.
"The one thing is you can't miss your pitch here."
Pedroia's status for series finale never in doubt
BOSTON -- In the end, there was only one place Dustin Pedroia was going to be on Sunday night, with the Yankees in town and a national audience watching on ESPN: In the lineup, batting third, playing second base.
"Oh, if his name wasn't in the lineup, I guarantee he'd be in my office," said manager John Farrell.
A day after taking a foul ball to the left shin, just above the foot that's given Pedroia problems in the past, Pedroia had no doubt he'd be playing.
"He's earned the right to speak his mind, and we trust what he says with how he feels or what he's feeling at the plate or any area of his game," Farrell said. "Honestly, coming in here today, this wasn't even a second thought in my mind that he wouldn't be in the lineup."
Including Sunday night, Pedroia has played in 125 of the team's 126 games this season, batting exclusively out of the No. 3 spot. With power numbers down for the second baseman this season, the Red Sox rank last in the Majors with eight home runs out of the three-spot, and 25th in the Majors with a .396 slugging percentage.
But what Pedroia has offered is his consistent ability to put the ball in play and put the pressure on the defense. Only the San Francisco Giants have fewer strikeouts out of their No. 3 spot than the Red Sox do. And Boston's .368 OBP out of the position is seventh in the Majors.
Pedroia may not be the prototypical No. 3 hitter, but it's worked out well for the best offense in baseball.
"When our top three guys are getting on base, we've got so much more ability to be active on the basepaths," Farrell said. "When [Shane] Victorino is doing what he's capable of in the two-hole, I think it just gives us the ability to have our on-base guys at the top of the order. There's an argument to be made that [Daniel] Nava could be one of those top two or three slots as well, in that two- or three-hole. I think there's a lot of value in being consistent every day, where guys walk in and know where they're going to be in the lineup."
Napoli day to day, Papi to play first in San Francisco
BOSTON -- David Ortiz hasn't made an error in four years.
Granted, he's only played the field in 14 games since 2009, when he made his last error, one of 21 in his career, but the 37-year-old has been perfect over his last 97 innings at first base.
With the upcoming West Coast road trip against the Giants and Dodgers leaving the Red Sox without the designated hitter, Ortiz will head back to first. He'll play at least two of the three games against the Giants, though the plan for the Dodgers' series has yet to be formulated.
That will leave Mike Napoli without a spot in the lineup, but he's battling a sore left foot that has caused him to miss the last two days. Napoli is day to day and will be reevaluated before the next series begins.
"We'll get through that [Giants] series first before we look to address the Dodgers series, but we've got three right-handed starters going against us in San Francisco, so matchups will be a part of it," manager John Farrell said.
Mike Carp provides another left-handed option at first base and could earn a start, assuming Ortiz gets a day off in the Giants' series. The switch-hitting Daniel Nava is also an option.
Nava spent much of Spring Training working out at first base to further his versatility, which has proven useful at times. Nava was in the lineup playing first for Sunday's game against the Yankees and left-handed starter CC Sabathia.
"He provides a lot of in-game flexibility as well, if we have a pinch-hit situation with either Mike Carp or Jonny [Gomes], we can shift him back to outfield from first base," Farrell said. "So when we approached the first base thing in Spring Training, I had no idea it would be this flexible and this much of an advantage for us, but it's turned out really well."
• Matt Thornton, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, threw a successful bullpen session Sunday and could be sent out on a rehab assignment soon. Farrell said Thornton will throw another bullpen session Tuesday and the team will figure out a plan from there. The left-hander is still experiencing some pain.
"If you push it too much, it's going to set me back and you're looking at another two to three weeks," Thornton said. "And then I'm in big trouble."
• The Red Sox have changed up their travel schedule in attempt to keep the players well rested as they hit the home stretch of the regular season. Farrell decided that it would make more sense to fly out the morning of game day when necessary, rather than fly out the night before, as the team has typically done. The Red Sox play the Giants in San Francisco at 10:15 p.m. ET Monday following Sunday night's game against the Yankees, and the team won't fly out until Monday morning.
"I just felt like the priority was to make sure a good night's sleep was here, get some rest and we'll travel tomorrow to show up and play," Farrell said.
• With rosters set to expand on Sept. 1, the Red Sox don't plan to promote anyone who won't have a chance to impact the team.
" Recognizing that some exposure in September is beneficial for a young player, but we're in the heat of it," Farrell said. "Guys that come here would have the ability to help us."