SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs shortstop Stephen Drew is back to intermittent baseball activities, but he's nowhere near the point in his recovery from a shattered right ankle that he's ready to play, he told MLB.com on Thursday."The doctor said it was going to be a year process, and now I'm at month seven," he said after taking some grounders during practice at the team's Salt River Field complex. "Flexibility is back to normal. Now I just have to get the strength back." Asked if there was any chance he might be ready for the season opener on April 6 against the Giants at Chase Field, Drew demurred. "I don't know. Like I told you, the doctors said a year," Drew said. "The coaching staff has been really good. The training staff is really good. We're taking it one day at a time and we'll see where it goes from there."
Drew fractured the ankle sliding into home plate during the eighth inning of a home game against the Brewers this past July 20 and underwent surgery to set it. He also suffered an abdominal injury last spring that led to offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia.If Drew was not an athlete he'd be in fine shape to go back to his desk job. But he is an athlete and these injuries take a long time to repair. He's still in the early phases of his rehab, he admits. "I'm pretty much back to doing everything. I'm hitting. I'm fielding. I have good movement," Drew said. "I'm doing pretty much everything I'm supposed to do. Now I just need to get rid of some of the residual of that accident." It can take awhile. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson had neck surgery just after the 2010 season and decided not to play in a team golf tournament Thursday afternoon after practice because he's still in recovery. During his playing career, he had wrist and hamstring injuries that needed surgery. It took him a long time to recover and he said he was never the same. So Gibson knows exactly what Drew is going through. "He's progressing, but he's a long way off," Gibson said about Drew. "He looks better, he looks stronger, but he's kind of sore today. He's basically been trying to go two days in a row and take a day off. We're trying to get him to every day. We've just got to get him going and keep him going." Gibson also said he had no way of knowing whether Drew would be ready for Opening Day. "We don't have him on a timetable," Gibson said. "When he's ready to play he's ready to play. We don't know [about Opening Day]. I have no idea. He's not close to playing in any games, I know that. He's got a lot of things to do before that. I mean, he's not even in everyday practice." Complicating matters is Drew's contract situation. He's in the last guaranteed year of a two-year deal with a mutual option for next year at $10 million. The buyout is $1.35 million. So at some point this season, Drew is going to want to get back on the field and show he can still play. Drew was hitting .252 with 21 doubles, five triples, five homers, 44 runs scored and 45 RBIs at the time of the injury. Approaching his 29th birthday on March 16, this is not where he wanted to be at this point in his career, recovering for the first time in his life from such a serious injury. "How have I coped with it? It's one of those deals where you wouldn't have chosen that path, but it's what you do when you're on it that matters," he said. "It teaches you some things. At the same time, I'm still going about it working hard. I've been working hard all offseason. Overall, I'm doing pretty good. I'm getting better, taking it one day at a time. I still have a little ways to go."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.