Drew progressing in rehab work on right ankle

FanFest draws record crowd for event at Chase Field

By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com | 02/11/12 6:55 PM EST

PHOENIX -- Every day, Stephen Drew wakes up at 5:30 and heads off in the morning darkness for the beginning of what ends up being about six hours of rehabilitation work on his right ankle.
Drew fractured the ankle and damaged the ligaments when his spikes caught while sliding into home on July 20. The gruesome injury required surgery the following day and constant rehabilitation since.

Despite all the work he's put in, Drew does not have an answer for the question that was on the minds of most fans who attended the D-backs eighth annual FanFest on Saturday afternoon at Chase Field: Will he be ready for Opening Day?

"Hopefully I will start Opening Day, but I don't know," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and lie to your face and be like I'm going to be ready by Opening Day. I can't tell you that right now. I know one thing, I'll be playing this year at some point."
Such is the uncertain nature of rehabbing from such a serious ankle injury. Ligaments were torn, the joint was hurt and a metal plate now resides there.
One thing that is for sure is that Drew has seen quite a bit of progress.
"To be honest when I first started out doing the rehab stuff I looked and I was like I don't know," Drew said. "I'm going to be honest I didn't know if this was the end [of my career]. It was hard to tell. It's one of those things where I started getting mobilization back in my ankle and I was like OK."
Rather than a straight line, the rehab has had its share of ups and downs. There were days the ankle felt great and then there were times it was so sore he was unable to do anything.
It was a process that certainly tested his patience, but one that also seems to have reached a turning point.
"Within the past three weeks it's been a lot better as far as progression," Drew said. "I've actually seen I can do this, I can do that. Each day has gotten better instead of taken a step back so that's a sign of it coming along pretty well."
Drew will take next week off and then report to Salt River Fields for Spring Training with the pitchers and catchers on Feb. 20. He has done lateral movement drills and jogging, and swinging a bat and throwing do not present a problem.
The biggest challenge will come when he takes groundballs.
"For playing short you've got to have your lateral movement you've got to run in," Drew said. "Everything that you do, it's unfortunate, but it's on your ankle. You don't just stand out there like outfielders and go catch a fly ball. It's quick cuts, go cover the bag, that type of stuff."
Drew usually spends the offseason back home in Georgia, but this year has only been back there for three days because he did not want to miss any rehab time.
"I knew to where I wanted to get back to I couldn't miss time," Drew said. "It was too important for this season."
Fan enthusiasm seems to be at a fever pitch for the season as well judging by the estimated 20,000-25,000 fans that attended FanFest, by far a record for the event.
"It just shows the excitement our fans have coming off of last year, the momentum we've gained from such a successful season," team president/CEO Derrick Hall said. "The number of players and coaches that participate is certainly a draw. It continues to grow. Each year we'll introduce something new, because it continues to grow attendance-wise. It's become a very big deal for the city, for light rail, they look forward to this date. They mark it on the city calendar now because it has been such a huge success and a draw bringing a lot of fans back down to downtown other than a game day."