Drew goes 3-for-3, shows signs of heating up

After uneven start to spring, second baseman drives in two runs vs. Phils

Drew goes 3-for-3, shows signs of heating up

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Yankees are hoping that a more normal Spring Training will allow Stephen Drew to return to the form he showed two seasons ago, and that belief was not shaken by the veteran infielder's slow start at the plate.

Entering Friday afternoon batting just .167 (6-for-36) in his first spring with the Yanks, Drew showed signs of busting out in New York's 10-0, rain-shortened Grapefruit League win over the Phillies, going 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs.

"He's swung the bat better the last two weeks," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The one thing you want is you want a lineup that there's pressure on the pitcher of the opposing team the entire time, and I feel that we have that type of lineup that we can do that, where so much pressure doesn't fall on a couple of guys. It's nice to see everyone swinging."

Drew doubled to right field in the second inning and singled to center field in the fourth facing Aaron Nola, then slapped a two-run single to left off Jake Diekman as part of the Yanks' seven-run fifth inning.

The Yankees have guaranteed Drew a spot as the Opening Day second baseman, recently stating that they came into camp with 12 of 13 position player spots locked down, with only the backup catcher's role left unsettled.

That indicated that Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder would begin the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Drew's first at-bats of the spring never gave him a reason to second-guess that.

"I think he's actually swinging the bat better in the last week, just like a lot of our veterans are," Cashman said. "The veterans are the ones who are the hardest to judge in the spring, because they're not competing for anything. They're just competing to get their timing and their bodies in position for a long season.

"They're not approaching the games like it's a 'win' situation. But as we're getting closer, you're starting to see those guys that we're running out there every day, you're starting to see more life, more production, and less things to worry about."

Girardi said that he has been encouraged by how the double-play combination of Drew and Didi Gregorius has looked on both sides of the ball. Gregorius did not play in Friday's game, but he has nine hits in his last 20 at-bats.

"I feel really good about what they've done," Girardi said. "I think they've made progress all spring long. They've worked well together defensively, so I do feel good about it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.