By Evan Brunell
Stephen Drew has now been Arizona's cleanup hitter for four straight games. That may be rather odd for someone who has only cracked the 20-home run barrier just once and hasn't come particularly close in his other years.
However, the brother of J.D. is off to a fast start early on in 2011, hitting .381 with three doubles in 24 plate appearances after missing the start of the season due to a sore abdomen.
"He's a good hitter. He's one of our best hitters," manager Kirk Gibson told the Arizona Republic. "Look at his history against the good pitchers, against the late throwers, the hard throwers. He's as good as we've got."
The Diamondbacks are certainly a team in disrepair, but while Drew's new cleanup spot speaks more to the team than the player, Drew has long flown under the radar when in actuality, he's been a steady presence and has occasionally shown flashes of being something much more. Still just 28, Drew may finally be hitting his stride, even if he does so hitting in a position not normally reserved for people like him.
"He's not a prototypical Number 4 hitter, but I played with a guy a long time ago named Alan Trammell (now the Diamondbacks' bench coach), who was a shortstop and hit fourth," Gibbons recalled from his Tigers days. "He hit about .333 with over 100 RBIs and almost 30 home runs."
Drew, for his part, doesn't see much difference between the cleanup spot and his usual appearance in one of the first two slots in the lineup.
"The main thing is, you got guys on [base hitting cleanup]," he said. "I kind of like that aspect of it -- you got guys on, sometimes the game is on the line. It's a good feeling to have."