Still, some refuse to believe it. Drew continues to draw higher than
high expectations, both for his talent and his widely publicized holdout.
He understands that there will be attention, positive and negative, and there
will always be someone asking him a question, and not necessarily about
"It just depends on the day," Drew says of how the media affects him,
"certain days I'm going to give more, and some days less. I know it's part
of my job, but it's not my entire job to talk to reporters."
He's not aggressive, he's not standoffish. This day he's giving as much
access as a reporter could want. He sits, listens to the questions, and
answers them honestly.
The other problem the media has involving Drew really doesn't have anything
to do with Stephen Drew. Everybody wants to know how soon Drew will get to
the Majors, and how good he'll be once he gets there. There is widespread
speculation, that has all been all but confirmed by members of the Diamondbacks
front office, that Drew will at the very least be given the opportunity to win
the Diamondbacks shortstop job next season.
"I really try not to focus on that stuff. I've got too much other stuff
to worry about right now. I'm here to learn, to produce, to improve," Drew
says of the AFL, "it's the front office and the coaches that will make the call
on when I come up. I can't control it, so I'm not going to speculate."
What Drew can control, almost too well, is the strike zone. After just
a week, and in a league full of the best minor league hitters anywhere, Drew is
already getting pitched around. Hard to argue with the philosophy though.
In Drew's first six games he went 14-26 with four doubles (including three in
one game), four home runs (in four consecutive games), and eight RBI. He's
been walked three times in eight plate appearances since.
"It's a more experienced league," Drew says of the differences between the
AFL and his limited minor league experience, "and it's more specific, you're
working on specific things down here, as opposed to the regular season, when
you're sort of trying to work on everything."
As far as what he's working on, for Drew it's defense.
"He needs work, but so does everybody in that league," says Drew's Double-A
Manager, Tony Perezchica from Tucson. Perezchica was there working with
the Diamondbacks Instructional League squad, where the D'Backs AFL
representatives prepped. "Sometimes its easy to forget he's in his first
year, because he makes things look so easy. A lot of guys need time to
adjust to the lifestyle and the league, but from the first day I had him, he's
been a professional baseball player."
That's high praise, and Perezchica hasn't even begun yet.
"He's got such a pretty swing, so under control. He already recognizes
what pitches he can and can't handle, a great command of the strikezone.
He's going to hit, that's not a question. At any level, he's going to
So does Perezchica think Drew should be the guy at shortstop next year for
"You never know, but it's not a question of will he be the shortstop, it's
just a matter of time. He's still got a lot to prove, but it seems like
every time they give him a challenge he responds."
For Drew, the speculation might grate on him, but it's easy for him to
remember why he is where he is.
"I just come out here everyday and play hard. I know this league isn't
necessarily about winning and losing, but I want to win every time I put on a
uniform. The Lord has given me the ability to play this game and I've
chosen it as my job now. That's the way I approach it. I come to
work, I do the best I can and I try to get better everyday. I take pride
in my game, the offense, the defense, I just keep working. I can get
better, and I will get better. Everything else I can't control, so I try
not to worry about it."
There's already enough worrying going on about Stephen Drew. The media
is always worried about him, the front office has to worry about how quickly
they can and can't move him, and every pitcher, in any league, who even might
have to face Drew has got to be worried about this lefty with power, speed, a
good eye and excellent wheels. Really, it seems the only person now
worried about Stephen Drew, is Stephen Drew.