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Stephen Drew making most of his short stop at second base

Eugenio Suarez #30 of the Detroit Tigers steals

Eugenio Suarez #30 of the Detroit Tigers steals second base in the fifth inning ahead of the tag from Stephen Drew #33 of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As Stephen Drew finished getting dressed at 12:30 a.m. Monday in the cramped visitor's clubhouse at Fenway Park, Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher, also the infield coach, approached.

"Heck of a game, buddy," Kelleher said after the Yankees' 8-7 victory.

Drew, who before Friday night had never before played second base in the big leagues, barely acknowledged the compliment.

"What I want to do when we get back to New York . . . " Drew said, putting out some ideas for pregame work the two could do in the coming days to help him further acclimate to an unfamiliar position.

Drew came to the Yankees from the Red Sox Thursday via trade, brought in to stabilize what has been a season-long concern: Defense. The Yankees felt more comfortable with Drew, a shortstop for his entire career, playing second than the incumbent, Brian Roberts, who in his peak was a fine fielding second baseman but at the time of his release led the team with 10 errors.

That necessitated a crash course on how to play second base for the 31-year-old Drew, who hadn't played it since the 10th grade.

Kelleher laid out his lesson plan before Friday's game.

"Not much," the always amiable Kelleher said of what he told, and planned to tell, the veteran.

Speaking after Sunday night's game, Kelleher said he hadn't delved much deeper than that over the weekend, which saw Drew field the position just fine.

"You tell me you've never played a position before, you don't want to start over-coaching," Kelleher said. "It's already uncomfortable enough out there."

Kelleher, who played third, short and second during an 11-year career in the majors, subscribed, in the early going, to the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

"Just go out and play and do what comes natural even though it's a different position," Kelleher said. "Catch the ball, throw the ball."

Drew and Kelleher said the biggest adjustment for Drew will be the pivot on double plays. The second baseman is blind to the runner bearing down on him when taking throws from the shortstop. Drew is used to having the runner in front of him.

Kelleher said watching Drew Friday night on a 5-4-3 double play, one in which the sizable presence of Mike Napoli was coming hard into the bag, told him this experiment just might work.

"[Napoli] was at his feet and he came across the bag, and he turned the double play," Kelleher said. "That was good because you're blindsided. He's never turned a double play from that side. Impressive."

On Sunday night, Mark Teixeira said had he not known it, he would have not assumed Drew was a first-timer at second. That was especially the case in the second inning earlier in the night when Drew snagged a Yoenis Cespedes grounder behind second and made a strong throw to clip the outfielder at first.

"He looks really good over there," Teixeira said. "He obviously has great range because he played shortstop. It's a very demanding position, short, so moving over to second, he hasn't skipped a beat . . . It's not like he's just making the routine plays, he's made a couple highlight-reel plays too, which is cool to see."

How comfortable was Drew after the weekend? "As comfortable as you can be for three games," he said, smiling.

He quickly turned serious. "Hey, I'm going to enjoy it and embrace it," he said. "To be able to play with [Derek Jeter] in his last year, a guy that I looked up to when I was growing up, it's special. So I'm going to take it and enjoy it and soak this year in."

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