Bill Ladson

Drew no longer a pull-only hitter

Infielder finding success in part-time role with Nationals

Drew no longer a pull-only hitter

WASHINGTON -- Nationals infielder Stephen Drew is the first to say that he is still learning how to come off the bench. He is asking questions to teammates such as Chris Heisey and Clint Robinson about being a reserve.

While he is learning, the 33-year-old is producing in the batter's box. Filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy at second base, Drew went 3-for-4 with three doubles, scored two runs and raised his batting average to .263 during the Nationals' 6-0 win against the Pirates on Saturday. Of the 25 hits he has collected this season, 15 of them have gone for extra bases -- eight doubles and seven home runs.

"All year, I'm just trying to figure this role out," Drew said. "I asked Clint and Heisey about this role, and I feel more comfortable now. I'm trying not to do too much, getting into good counts, and I'm putting good swings on some pitches."

Manager Dusty Baker noticed that Drew is no longer pulling the ball all the time like he did while hitting .201 with the Yankees last year. Now, Drew is spraying the ball all over the field. He looks like the hitter he was earlier in his career with the D-backs.

"Earlier in the year, [Drew] had that Yankee Stadium stroke going where he was pulling everything. But I talked to [hitting coach] Rick Schu, who had him in Arizona, and Drew is using the big part of the field," Baker said. "He can still pull, but when he starts going to left-center field and up the middle, you know he is locked in."

After last year ended, Drew went back to his offseason home and realized that he had to change his approach at the plate.

"I just had a different swing," he said. "I was able to make some adjustments -- hitting to the entire field. I was able to do that in Arizona. I've been able to get into that rhythm and hit balls anywhere."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.