SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nine months after suffering a season-ending right ankle injury while sliding into home plate, D-backs shortstop Stephen Drew was back in front of live pitching Thursday during an extended spring training game at Salt River Fields.
"It was good to be back out there," he said. "I've still got a little ways to go, but I'm happy to get this stepping stone done."
In just the second time Drew participated in a game-like atmosphere since the surgery, the 29-year-old first played in the field. He moved around gingerly, but helped turn a double play off a ground ball to the second baseman.
Afterward, he put on a helmet and took four at-bats within a span of 10 minutes. In his first plate appearance, Drew struck out on an offspeed pitch down and in. Next, he knocked a single through the right side, jogging to first base before a pinch-runner let him retreat to the dugout.
In his final two at-bats, Drew grounded out to second base and flied out to deep left field.
"I'm seeing the ball fine," Drew said. "I'm picking up changeups, curveballs, sliders, and that's all you can ask for right now. I'm glad I did this today, but I still got a little ways to go."
Drew said he couldn't give a timetable for his return because he isn't sure what's next in his the rehab process.
"I wish I could tell you guys, but it's just one of those things where it's gotten better every day," he said. "Six weeks ago when we started Spring Training, I couldn't do the stuff I'm doing now. That's the way I look at it. I wish I had a timetable myself, but it's a slow process."
He likened his situation to starting his Spring Training now, even though the club finished its stint over a week ago.
"I still have to build up -- I basically only played one inning," Drew said. "It's not like you can shove yourself into a game after one inning. I didn't have any setbacks, but we're going through the training right now."
Tyler Emerick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.