Drew Sutton was born in Arkansas, attended high school in Tennessee, college in Texas, and lives near Dallas now. But despite the variety of southern stops, Sutton has a dream that makes him sound like a New Englander.
“It was always on my bucket list to go to Fenway Park,” Sutton told me. “Having a chance to play there is incredible.”
Sutton will have that opportunity in 2011 after signing with Boston as a minor league free agent on Monday. The 27-year-old switch-hitter is a jack-of-all-trades who can play anywhere in the infield as well as the corner positions in the outfield.
“We had five or six teams that called once they could contact minor league free agents and my decision came down to San Diego or Boston,” Sutton said. “The Red Sox were more aggressive with their offer and it seemed like a better overall situation as far as the opportunities in Triple-A and also the possible opportunity to contribute to the big league team.”
Sutton has major league experience with Cincinnati and Cleveland, batting .229 (.302 OBP) with 3 HR in 55 big league games. In 7 minor league seasons, he’s batted .279 (.379 OBP/.434 SLG) with three seasons of 15 or more home runs. His deal with the Red Sox includes an invitation to big league training camp in Ft. Myers, and Drew hopes to be this year’s Nick Green (2009) or Darnell McDonald (2010) – players who signed minor league deals but wound up spending the year in Boston.
“I don’t think anybody could have predicted what happened with the Red Sox last year as far as how many injuries there were and how many free agent signees they needed to use during the season,” Sutton said. “That’s one of the crazy things about baseball. I was in a similar situation in 2009 when I was with the Reds – I happened to be in the right place at the right time. You always hope for an opportunity to get to the big leagues, but you can’t control what happens with injuries or how guys play. The best you can hope for is to get the opportunity to play every day at Triple-A and produce. Then when the time comes, you’re the first guy that pops into their head.”
While his goal is to play in Boston, Sutton knows there’s a strong possibility that he’ll begin the season with the PawSox.
“When you’re on a minor league contract, you have to prepare for the possibility of being sent down, and being in Pawtucket is a great worst-case scenario because of the support of the fans. And it may sound funny, but it’s great when the team has a nice clubhouse because there’s where you wind up spending the majority of your time.”
Best of all, McCoy Stadium is one stop from Fenway.
“Me and my wife started a bucket list and I had to put that on there,” Sutton said with a laugh. “She wants to go to Rome and Paris. She also has one that’s a little scary – she wants to go to Australia and swim with sharks. We might have to wait until baseball is over for that one.”
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