BOSTON -- As much as Brendan Ryan has struggled at the plate this season, the shortstop hasn't let those troubles follow him onto the field. Ryan has been golden with the glove, the best defender on a team that ranks second in the American League in fielding percentage (.989) and errors (14).
Ryan said he can't afford to let his offensive slump carry over, as he's hit .144 his first 30 games heading into Monday's series opener against the Red Sox.
"I don't have a choice," said the 30-year-old. "There are a lot of things to say off of that. For one, on the field right now, I have the most tenure except for [Ichiro Suzuki]. Not that I'm the captain or role model or anything like that, but you can't show it. You have your moments, but you try to have them by yourself. That's not something you want to show, having five-plus years in. That can kind of trickle down."
Manager Eric Wedge had Ryan back in the lineup for a second straight day Monday after benching him Saturday. Ryan went 0-for-3 on Sunday, but his quick-footed double play on a Derek Jeter ground ball to the left of second base with the bases loaded in the fifth inning helped win that game.
"He's wearing it, but he's wearing it the right way," Wedge said the way Ryan is dealing with his struggles. "That means a great deal, and obviously you see what the kid's doing defensively."
Ryan, looking for positive signs, found a big one in a 10-pitch walk against Clay Rapada in the ninth inning Sunday that included three well-hit foul balls pulled down the left-field line before drawing his free pass. Small victory, sure, but Ryan said something big happened just before that at-bat, when Jeter called him over in the bottom of the eighth when standing on second base during a pitching change.
"It was very cool of him," Ryan said. "It wasn't anything I haven't really heard, but when you hear it from Derek Jeter or an Albert Pujols type, it's nice. He said, 'Look, I know you're hearing stuff from every different angle.' He said he was hitting a-buck-ninety at the end of May a couple years back and was getting advice from cab drivers, doormen, everybody."
Jeter offered his own quick observation of Ryan's approach and told him to keep his head up.
"As much as anything, it's just the encouragement. That's a pretty cool veteran move from an opponent," Ryan said. "And I'm trying to build off that last at-bat."