As Stephen Drew recovers from his severe ankle injury suffered last summer, third base coach Matt Williams can empathize. Williams suffered almost the exact same injury -- broken fibula, dislocated ankle -- in spring training of 2002.
"It's a serious injury. The bones heal pretty fast, but the ligaments and the joint itself ... when the joint is dislocated, it takes time to get that flexibility back in there. You are going to have inherent swelling and inflammation and all that stuff that you have to work out, and it takes some time to do that," Williams said.
Drew took groundballs on the first day of spring training while reporting with the pitchers and catchers, but there is no timetable as to when he might play his first game.
Williams, a five-time All-Star and four time Gold Glove winner, suffered his injury the first week of spring training in 2002 and like Drew had a plate inserted in his fibula and held in place with screws. He also had a screw inserted to secure the cartilage between his fibula and tibia.
"When your ankle dislocates, it tears all the ligaments on the opposite side of the dislocation," Williams said. "That's all fixable. They sew them back together and they will heal. It takes some time to stretch those back out. The issue that he is going to face is, how flexible is that ankle? And his confidence planting on it, turning on it, running the bases, all of those things. Running straight ahead is OK because that is your natural way your foot works. But twisting on it is going to be the issue."
Williams, 36, when he suffered the injury, returned to the D-backs lineup 4 1/2 months later, but said he rushed things. He retired the next year.
"I shouldn't have come back so early, and I was never the same," admitted Williams. "I was a lot older than him, though. The older you get, the less healing that goes on. I think he'll be OK. I think it's just a matter of him getting confident on it."
"We'll get him out in spring training and run him through some drills and see where he is at, and get him to progress naturally from there."
--OF Gerardo Parra could not have been pleased when the D'backs signed OF Jason Kubel over the winter to become their starting left fielder, but he did not show it when he reported to spring training. "I feel good, because Kubel is a great player," said Parra. "I'm happy because the team is looking strong. I'm ready for everything. I don't care what position I play here." The D-backs have said they plan to use Parra as a backup at all three outfield spots.
--SS Stephen Drew took groundballs on the first day of spring training, testing the injured right ankle that kept him off the field since July 20, 2011. It was the first time he had been on a field during the rehab process. "It was weird and good at the same time. Overall, I was pretty pleased. It was a good day," said Drew, who continued took grounders four of the first five days. "He's got a long way to go, but he's got a great attitude and he's progressed nicely in the first week," manager Kirk Gibson added.
--C Miguel Montero, who signed a one-year, $5.9 million contract to avoid arbitration in January, mentioned March 20 as a cutoff point for talks on a possible long-term deal. Montero made clear when he reported for spring training that it is not an actual deadline, although he does want the matter decided one way or the other a good few days before the start of the regular season April 6. "I don't want to think about it right before the season starts. They say it doesn't affect you, but it does," said Montero, who is coming off a career year.
--RHP Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, has an extensive pregame routine, which includes an hour of stretching and warmups and concludes with long toss from foul pole to foul pole. It worked well for Bauer at UCLA, where he was a starter and could schedule accordingly. "It's a learning experience for us both," Gibson said. "We certainly don't want to do anything that is going to make him not as good as he is. We want him to feel comfortable. At the same time, he has to learn we have a time frame and we have to figure out a way to do it."
--RHP J.J. Putz is expected to pitch in more "A" games this spring rather than doing much of his work on the back fields, as he did last year. Putz, who had a career-best 45 saves last season, appeared in only two official spring training games and missed about a week after suffering a neck injury while warming up in the bullpen for a late spring appearance. "He's going to throw more than he did last time. Won't be hard. I threw more than him last year," Gibson said, smiling.
DIAMOND STAT: 10 -- Pounds IF/OF Geoff Blum lost in the offseason to prepare for job competition this spring.
QUOTABLE: "I'm happy because the team looks strong, and the point is to go the World Series. It's my team. I feel right. " -- OF Gerardo Parra, who lost his starting job when the D'backs signed free agent OF Jason Kubel to play left field this winter.
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