Good Evening
Good Evening

Stephen Drew swinging hot bat for Yankees

The New York Yankees' Stephen Drew hits a

The New York Yankees' Stephen Drew hits a three-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of a game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Credit: AP / Winslow Townson

How unpopular has Stephen Drew been among Yankees fans?

So unpopular that when he has done anything positive at the plate, a palpable sense of disappointment emerges on social media from some fans under the misguided impression that Rob Refsnyder, or someone else, is a Drew 0-for-4 away from taking over second base.

And that was just in spring training.

Indeed, the most unpopular Yankee since A.J. Burnett has had a rough season -- much of it his own making, of course -- as those positive moments offensively have been few and far between until recently.

That dramatically changed in the past week as Drew caught fire during the Yankees' 5-1 trip through Atlanta and Boston. He was 9-for-12 with two homers and nine RBIs in the final four games.

"It's good to finally have some confidence back. That's a good feeling," said Drew, who went 4-for-4 with four RBIs in a 20-6 victory over Atlanta last Sunday and 3-for-4 with three RBIs in a 13-8 victory over Boston on Wednesday, finishing a triple shy of the cycle.

"I know what I can do, I know it's there. It's just a matter of putting it together and staying consistent. I've had some good at-bats, some frustrating at-bats through the year, but here we are now."

The "here" he refers to are hardly eye-popping numbers: a .208/.278/.400 slash line. He does have 17 homers, which ranks him fourth on the club.

But that less-than-pedestrian slash line at least shows an upward trend, considering it was .157/.225/.301 at the end of May and .192/.264/.377 at the end of July.

"Everybody goes through it. It doesn't matter who you are. Hall of Famers go through it," said Jacoby Ellsbury, a teammate of Drew's in 2013 when both won a world championship with the Red Sox. "But I always thought a lot of times his average [this season] didn't correlate with how he was swinging. And that can happen. Sometimes you go through stretches where you hit the ball hard and you're not rewarded. They say it evens out, but sometimes for players it doesn't . . . He realizes he's a good hitter. It's nice to see him get these results."

Beyond saying, "He's been really hot swinging the bat," Joe Girardi hasn't done too much public analysis of what Drew has been doing differently at the plate.

"I'm not really asking a whole lot of questions," Girardi said, "because whatever he's doing is working."

The Yankees obtained Drew before the 2014 trade deadline and general manager Brian Cashman re-signed him last offseason for $5 million, a move mostly panned by Yankees fans. A 6-for-36 start to spring training did nothing to quell the discontent, nor did a four-month slump to start the regular season.

But Drew's excellent defense at second base, a position the former shortstop didn't learn until last season after joining the Yankees, assured him a spot in the lineup, which Cashman made clear in spring training.

"Those guys have shown they still have work to do on the defensive side," Cashman said in March of Refsnyder and fellow prospect Jose Pirela. "Right now, I'm pretty comfortable that the Drew signing was the smart play for us on the front end."

And though Girardi benched Drew against some lefthanders during the summer as his struggles reached their nadir, the message from the manager and GM remained the same: Drew still is a better option than anyone else the Yankees have.

"It's been a good feeling this past week," Drew said. "Hopefully, I can keep it going the rest of the month."

New York Sports