Stephen Drew will move another step closer to rejoining the Diamondbacks this weekend, when he is expected to play consecutive extended spring training games. Drew went seven innings Friday and is scheduled to play a full nine Saturday.
"So that's encouraging," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
At the same time, the D-backs have no timetable for Drew's return. It has been 10 1/2 months since he suffered a spiral fracture in his right ankle and ligament damage on a play at the plate July 20, ending his season. Drew suffered a mild setback last week, when soreness kept him off the field for several games.
"I don't think you ever really know with what he's going through," Gibson said. "It's not really a setback, it's just that it gets too sore to deal with. If you keep pushing, it just keeps getting sorer and sorer and sorer. If you have too much pain in there, there is a reason for it. We don't want to push it too hard."
Baserunning might be the most severe test, said Gibson. It is something San Francisco catcher Buster Posey has dealt with since he has returned from a fractured ankle and ligament damage suffered in a collision at the plate in May 2011, and his injury was not as severe as Drew's. The D-backs played the Giants earlier this week.
"I hear that Posey's biggest dilemma is when he runs the bases," Gibson said. "When you are running the bases, you have to cut hard, you are hitting the base, you have to start and stop. I think that's probably, my guess, the toughest part of it. He seems to react pretty well out in the field, from what I've seen."
With Drew at shortstop, the D-backs were 28-24 after 52 games last season. They are five games behind that pace this year.
"Do we want Stephen Drew in our lineup? Of course. He's one heck of a talent. I think when he comes back, he'll be Stephen Drew. When you have serious injuries like that, they stick with you for a while," Gibson said.