NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 12, 2007

Varitek: Don't boo Drew

Bill Burt

HAVERHILL - Jason Varitek had gone through the early afternoon signing autographs for two hours, posing for pictures and thanking a few hundred natives from Red Sox Nation for their support.

He heard everything, from how great he is at handling pitchers to how the Red Sox fortunes changed forever when he fought the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez

A few minutes after his last picture and handshake, after everyone had left, he started to act as if he was in Red Sox clubhouse wearing a "C" on his jersey.

And he had a thought.

What if Red Sox fans treated J.D. Drew the way he was treated at Jaffarian-Volvo Toyota yesterday?

"I wish the fans understood how much power they have," said Varitek. "They can help J.D. Drew. They really can."

The irony, said Varitek, is that by booing Drew, who has been mired in a season-long slump, the Red Sox chances of winning drops.

"I don't know if people understand this. J.D. Drew is not going anywhere. He's not only our right fielder now, but he's going to be here awhile," said Varitek. "If people can accept that fact, then maybe they might think differently."

Easier said then done, Varitek was informed.

Drew, as was advertised over the winter, has a way of looking disinterested in winning, or losing for that matter. He just doesn't look like he cares.

"He's not the kind of guy that throws his bat," said Varitek, who is not in that "Kevin Youkilis" category either. "Is his hat going to be as dirty as Trot's (Nixon) was? No. But that doesn't mean he doesn't care. And that doesn't mean he isn't good."

Varitek swears Drew is not as bad a player as it seems. Obviously, he said, something is not right.

Varitek is not only referring to his on-field malaise - .254, 7 HRs, 50 RBIs, which rank him 142nd, 219th and 164th, respectively, among starters - but Drew's sick child.

"But you look at his swing. It's a great swing," said Varitek. "And he's a good outfielder. He has good speed. He's a good player. Is he having the year a lot of people hoped? No. But he can still help us. In fact, I really believe we are going to need him."

That's where the fans come in, said Varitek, sitting in an office at Jaffarian's.

"Why not give him a standing ovation when he comes to plate," said Varitek. "They did it for Julio Lugo and it helped. It really did. The energy the fans give you can carry a team. Trust me, I know. I can feel it. But the fans can also make you want to get under a rock."



Varitek says there is reason to elevate Drew's spirits.

While he only had three hits in 11 at bats in Baltimore, he walked four times. And, according to Varitek, had the key hit leading to the 3-2 win in the finale.

"He had some good at-bats, which is really what I look at instead of hits or batting average," said Varitek. "That will be forgotten by tonight, though, because it's J.D. Drew. And that's not right."

What would be right, he says, would be a standing ovation for each and every at bat ... beginning tonight.

"I don't understand why fans don't understand that," said Varitek. "We need J.D. to hit. It's tough, though, to do in this climate. I really wish the fans would give him a boost. He needs it. And we do, too."

Bill Burt is executive sports editor for Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co. You can e-mail him at bburt@eagletribune.com.