By Brendan Kuty
NEW YORK — Stephen Drew remembers the day that he pulled his season from its nosedive.
Of course, the Yankees’ second baseman hasn’t turned into Barry Bonds since manager Joe Girardi sat him May 31 in Oakland so he could make a few adjustments in the batting cage and take a mental break.
But he’s also no longer, well, the Drew that had Yankees fans scratching their heads, wondering why the team re-signed him after a terrible 2014.
Drew had hit .248 with 12 homers and 29 RBI since that day as of Saturday morning. It’s a huge improvement over the .157 hitter the 32-year-old was before he was benched in favor of Jose Pirela. Overall, he had hit .209 with 17 home runs (the second highest total of his career) and 44 RBI, again, as of Saturday morning.
At the time, eyes might have rolled at the idea of Drew potentially finding a flaw or two that might set him on course. In a half-season the year before, Drew had hit .162, hardly an improvement over Brian Roberts, whom the Yankees cut to make room for him.
But, apparently, it worked.
Drew told NJ Advance Media he started watching tape of when he was going right during his seven years in Arizona, over which he was a .266 hitter. He noticed some things, he said.
In particular, Drew said, he worked with hitting coaches Jeff Pentland and Alan Cockrell on “trying to keep my hands inside the baseball as much as I could.”
“I was coming around the baseball too much, and I needed to start seeing the ball better,” he said. “So it’s more or less looking back at that.”
He added, “And there were other adjustments, trying to get my top hand to where balls, balls that are away, I’m hitting through the ball. And I was messing around with my stance and the way I feel on my feet, and feeling comfortable.”
An example of those adjustments coming together? Drew, a lefty hitter, pointed to when he doubled to left-center off southpaw Henry Owens in Boston on Wednesday.
“It feels good,” he said. “It’s a good feeling because I know it’s in there and the feeling is, for me, I’m just glad to finally have that feeling regardless of it’s hopefully I keep it this whole time.”