Drew may play reduced role returning from DL

Drew may play reduced role returning from DL

Published Jun. 18, 2012 5:49 p.m. ET

PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks would welcome Stephen Drew back even as a part-time starter, manager Kirk Gibson said Monday, and in that case the team likely would carry three shortstops for the rest of the season.

"Stephen, when he comes back, I don't think he would come back as an everyday guy. He would have to be worked in and out of the lineup," Gibson said.

"There are going to be limitations if he were to come back in the near future. I told him a while ago, even if he could come back and we could play him every third day but he was available off the bench, I think he would still be an asset to the team.

"I think he is getting closer to that."

Gibson spoke to Drew after he played three straight games at Class AAA Reno ending Saturday, the first time Drew had done that since suffering his fractured right ankle last July 20. Drew is hitting .292 with a double and a home run in six games at Reno since beginning his 20-day rehab assignment on June 7. The D-backs must be activate Drew by June 27 or request an extension.

If Drew does not play every day when he rejoins the D-backs, there would seem to plenty of room on the roster for Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald, who have filled in admirably in Drew's absence. The D-backs were 37-22 in 2011 in games Bloomquist and McDonald started after Drew went down, and they are 69-56 including the first 110 games of the season this year.

Bloomquist reached base in 21 straight games via hit or walk in a streak that ended Saturday, and he had 12 multi-hit games in that stretch, raising his batting average 84 percentage points. McDonald has three homers and 10 RBIs this season, and he has not committed an error.

"They've done better than anybody could have hoped for. It was a big loss for us when Stephen went out. It is a credit to those guys, their professionalism and understanding how we wanted to work our way through it. This year has been more of the same. At the time, we would be happy to get Stephen back," Gibson said.

"Those guys still would be involved. They may have to move around a little bit, too."

McDonald takes grounders with his shortstop and third-base gloves during batting practice, and he played several games at third base in spring training. Bloomquist played left field and shortstop with the D-backs last season and has played more than 100 games at third base, second base and center field in his major league career.

The D-backs could make room by keeping only one third baseman. Starter Ryan Roberts is hitting .242 with four home runs and 26 RBIs, and Josh Bell is hitting .154 with one homer and three RBIs since being purchased from Class AAA Reno on May 21. Third baseman Geoff Blum has played two games on a rehab assignment in Reno but needs more time before he is ready to be activated.

Drew still has his good days and bad days, another reason to keep extra protection.

"Watching the whole thing with Stephen and his recovery, it doesn't always make sense," Gibson said. "You take the last three days. He plays one day (Thursday), he is really sore on the second day, he feels better on the third day. It doesn't really make a lot of sense."