SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew says it was a special day to be back on the field handling ground balls.
Drew took part Monday in the Diamondbacks’ first drills of spring training, calling it “a big step.”
Drew broke his right ankle and severely damaged ligaments sliding into home plate seven months ago. He went through grueling rehabilitation and says he took off only three days during the entire process.
Despite his recovery, Drew said it’s too early to tell if he will be ready for the team’s season opener on April 6.
He said that fielding baseballs after so long felt “weird and good at the same time.”
“It was a great day, it really was,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with it.”
Third base coach Matt Williams hit Drew grounders for 15 or 20 minutes.
Manager Kirk Gibson said he thought the shortstop “looked good” and that the ankle “moved a lot better than I thought it would be.”
“We put him through some agility stuff, Matty hit him some ground balls, we sent him over to the batting cage, and then we shut him down,” Gibson said.
Drew is scheduled for a similar workout on Tuesday. At some point, he said, he will take two days off.
“We’re kind of playing it by ear,” he said.
Catcher Miguel Montero watched Drew from an adjacent field.
“It’s big to have his glove in the lineup, his bat in the lineup, he’s a big part of the team,” Montero said. “It’s too bad what happened and it looks like he’s recovered pretty good.”
Drew was trying to score from second base against Milwaukee on July 20 when he went into his slide and his right foot was caught beneath him. Slow motion replays showed the foot virtually turned around to face the wrong way, an injury he called “a 180.” He grabbed the foot and turned it back around, then laid on the ground in pain before finally being helped off. Two days later, he underwent surgery.
Drew called it “by far” the most difficult thing he’s dealt with in his career.
“A major injury, you know,” he said. “It’s not like pulling a hamstring or anything like that. The ligaments have got to heal up.”
“Put it that way, because if somebody goes through it like this, you have more respect for guys that come back, because it is very hard,” he said.
Drew said it was “very tough to watch from the dugout as the Diamondbacks won the NL West and lost to the Brewers in five games in the division series. Willie Bloomquist took most of what would have been Drew’s playing time at short.
“Willie and them guys picked me up, they really did,” Drew said. “He had a great year, but sitting in the dugout and watching them play is very hard. You don’t get that chance very much.”
He could get that chance again, though. The Diamondbacks seem to have the makings of another good team.
“Really good,” Drew said. “I think we’re going to have a good year if we just keep our heads on right and go from there.”
Gibson called Monday’s work by Drew “big steps.”
“We will take him slow,” the manager said. “We are not going to push him. He still has a long way to go.”