David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
BOSTON - In the final minutes before Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, the Yankees decided their best option to play second base for the remainder of this season was someone who had never played the position.
Wait. Hold up a sec. That's not entirely accurate.
"Two months in 10th grade," Stephen Drew said. "On varsity."
We're not sure if the Yankees obtained the scouting reports from Drew's sophomore year at Lowndes County (Ga.) High, but at least it wasn't the JV squad. Then we'd have to question Brian Cashman's motivation for this move.
Seriously, though, now that Drew finally is on the Yankees, we're wondering what this could mean for his chances of succeeding Derek Jeter in 2015, even if his audition will be taking place on the other side of the infield.
One person with no interest in that discussion is the Yankees' captain. Jeter had the opportunity to endorse Drew shortly before Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but with two months -- and maybe a playoff game or two -- left before his retirement, he steered clear of stumping for him.
When asked if Drew would be a good candidate to follow him at the position, Jeter responded in typical Jeter fashion.
"I have no clue," he said. "I won't be here."
We deserved that. To expect anything more from Jeter on this particular subject would be unrealistic. Drew is here to be the second baseman, and that's how Jeter chooses to look at this trade.
Drew, to his credit, also realizes that it probably is not in his best interests to start talking about the position while Jeter is occupying it.
"I'm just excited to get to play with a guy who's in his last year," Drew said, "Try to learn as much as I can from him and take it all in."
But does he want to be Jeter's replacement?
"I'm just going to soak this in," Drew added. "I really am. It's something that's new to me."
For a guy who was dressing in the Red Sox clubhouse only two days earlier, Drew was hip to the vibe at the other end of the Fenway concourse. His top priority now is to avoid screwing up as Jeter's new double-play partner -- and he botched his first chance in the first inning Friday night. Drew's footwork on the second-base pivot looked a little off when he took the throw from Jeter and bounced a late relay throw to first.
"I was trying to get a feel for it," Drew said. "The more games I get over there, it will become easier and easier."
His unfamiliarity with those types of plays is bound to show up occasionally, and mistakes are to be expected. Even so, Drew deftly completed a 5-4-3 DP in the eighth inning.
"It's just confidence in yourself," he said. "It will be different with angles and stuff. But I still think I'll be able to do it."
If Brian McCann can survive spot duty at first base after not playing there since high school, we imagine Drew will be fine.
The Yankees have bigger issues anyway -- a lack of offensive punch, a mediocre rotation with no stopper and a talented but tired bullpen that is going to be heavily leaned on during the next two months. Brian Cashman was unable to fully address those needs by Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline, trading for Drew and Martin Prado and adding reliever Esmil Rogers off waivers.
When Drew showed up Friday to meet the media in the Fenway conference room, he used the back stairs that lead up from the Red Sox clubhouse -- an area off limits to non-Sox personnel. He also left by the same back door, then arrived later in the tiny visitors' clubhouse, where he briefly shook hands with Jeter before batting practice.
If there was any discussion between the two -- comparing notes, sharing Newbury Street hot spots -- it didn't happen while reporters were in the clubhouse.
Jeter also didn't go overboard raving about the Yankees' deadline deals. Quite the opposite.
"Any time you have moves, people leave," Jeter said. "You're happy to be playing with some new guys, but at the same time, you're sad to see guys go."
Before long, it will be Jeter's turn. And whatever the Yankees decide to do with Drew at that point will be their problem, not his.