Drew named AL's top hitter for June
Outfielder carried Boston's offense in Ortiz's absence
ST. PETERSBURG -- To say that J.D. Drew carried the Boston Red Sox's offense for a full month, from almost the moment superstar slugger David Ortiz was sidelined with a left wrist injury, would not be an overstatement.
Drew was rewarded on Wednesday for his monster June by being named the Sharp Presents American League Player of the Month. It is the first time Drew has received the monthly honor during his career.
This, after Drew belted more homers in June (12) than he did in all of 2007 (11).
Soon after Ortiz's May 31 injury, Drew was moved into Big Papi's No. 3 spot in the batting order. The results were both immediate and emphatic.
Aside from all the longballs, the right fielder hit .337 (31-for-92) and drove in 27 runs.
"I felt like I was swinging the bat well, and it just happened that David got hurt and I'm still swinging the bat well," said Drew. "Before he got hurt, I was kind of transitioning into that next roll, and it was good timing for everything. We definitely want him back and healthy, and I just think it's a matter of everyone chipping in a little bit and making it easier for him to feel well. I know what it feels like to be rushed back in."
Drew's .848 slugging percentage in June was the highest for a Boston hitter since research first became available in 1956.
It was the best power month of Drew's career, topping the 10 homers he hit in May of 2001 while with the Cardinals.
"I think J.D. is definitely standing out," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "Big hits -- he's driving the ball, giving us RBIs. He's that guy in the middle of the lineup you don't want to face right now. He's hitting everything. When you get that hot, you're really not missing much. He's on right now. Why not? He has the ability to stretch it out for a few months."
Drew collected 21 extra-base hits, including seven doubles and two triples. He walked 21 times and had a .462 on-base percentage. During the month, the Hahira, Ga., native put together an 11-game hitting streak from June 1-12, which included eight multi-hit games.
He homered in three straight games from June 7-10.
Drew's best performance of the month came on June 18 at Philadelphia, when he went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double and four RBIs.
For the season, Drew, 32, is hitting .299 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.