The Arizona Diamondbacks have been cautious in rehabbing shortstop Stephen Drew -- and their patience seems to be paying dividends.
Drew severely fractured his right ankle sliding into home plate last July and has been gradually increasing the intensity of his workouts.
"He's making great strides," Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Thursday. "The other day he told [General Manager] Kevin Towers he feels great, which is such a good sign because we put him through a lot of work."
Hall expects Drew to make his return to game action in the near future.
"I think he's getting close to game time where he'll be able to play in some games," Hall stated. "He's going to have to go off on a [minor league] rehab [assignment]."
The D-backs will monitor Drew closely as he works his way back to the majors to ensure his ankle is strong enough to hold up over the course of the season.
"There's no reason to rush this guy," Hall said. "That was a nasty injury. We want to make sure he has all the recovery time in the world."
The middle infield depth that the D-backs have is one of the reasons they have the luxury to take their time easing Drew back into the starting lineup. Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald filled in admirably for the injured Drew when the D-backs needed a boost in the heat of a pennant race last year.
"Remember we played very well when Stephen [Drew] went down, although most [people] had written us off," Hall stated. "So this team comes together when they need to and they pick their teammates up."
The 2011 Diamondbacks blossomed due to their chemistry and heart. Manager Kirk Gibson's troops thrived on being the underdog and possessed a never-say-die attitude and work ethic that became one of the team's biggest assets.
If they are going to repeat as National League West Division Champions in 2012, they'll need to embrace that mentality again of being the hunter and not the hunted.
"It is going to be a fight, it's going to be a battle all year long, but that makes for exciting baseball for our fans," Hall said. "We should be in it with our coaching staff, with our players, keeping that unit together. Certainly we hope to win the division, but as we all know it's never easy to repeat."