TORONTO — Stephen Drew had 17 plate appearances in spring training before he suffered a concussion March 7 that eventually landed him on the disabled list to start the season.
He reported to Double A Portland April 5 and picked up an additional 16 plate appearances over four games.
Under major league rules, players on the seven-day concussion disabled list can spend no more than five games in the minor leagues on a rehabilitation assignment. So when Drew was activated April 10, he suspected it would take some time to get his timing down.
“It was like spring training was split up,” Drew said Thursday before the Red Sox faced the Toronto Blue Jays. “I didn’t know when the concussion thing was going to end. It’s no excuse, I had to get out there and play.”
Drew was 4 for 35 (.114) in his first 11 games of the season with one RBI and one extra-base hit.
He is 7 of 24 (.292) in seven games since, with three extra base-hits, eight RBIs, and four walks. He had a sacrifice fly in the second inning of Thursday’s 3-1 victory.
“I’m just working on things. A lot of it is timing,” said Drew, who was 3 for 5 with a two-run home run in Wednesday’s 10-1 victory against Toronto. “Like I said before, I’m getting there. I’m having great at-bats. I’m swinging at the pitches that I want to swing at and hitting the ball hard.
“I’ve put good ABs on and worked the counts really well. I think the timing is starting to get there.”
The way manager John Farrell looks at it, Drew’s first few weeks were essentially spring training all over again.
“We’re seeing the timing become more consistent. [Against] righthanders or lefthanders, he’s still putting good at-bats up and seeing the ball much better,” Farrell said. “He gives the bottom third of our order added depth and certainly a lift.”
Victorino is close
Right fielder Shane Victorino was out of the lineup for the seventh straight game. But he reported for optional early batting practice on the field and hit again before the game. He expects to start at Texas on Friday.
Farrell said Victorino tried to talk his way into the lineup. But the Red Sox want to make sure his strained lower back is healthy.
“It’ll be better news as long as we don’t have a recurrence,” Farrell said. “That’s why we’re taking the extra day, just to be that much more cautious.”
Victorino is hitting .292 with a .358 on-base percentage.
David Ortiz, who played seven games in a row, was out of the lineup. Farrell said it was a planned day off.
With Ortiz coming back from an Achilles’ tendon injury, the Red Sox are trying to be proactive in giving him days off. Farrell said that Ortiz would be back in the lineup on Friday.
Bard still struggling
Daniel Bard had a rough ninth inning for Double A Portland at Reading Thursday.
He inherited a 7-3 lead and walked the first batter. A wild pitch moved that runner to second. Bard got a strikeout before throwing another wild pitch. He was then taken out of the game after a four-pitch walk.
Bard threw 15 pitches, four strikes.
In two outings for Portland since Bard was optioned there, he has walked three, thrown three wild pitches, and thrown strikes on 13 of 33 pitches.
Bard walked both batters he faced Saturday while pitching for the Red Sox and was returned to the minors Sunday.
Far, far away
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker website, Mike Napoli’s two home runs Wednesday night were among the five longest in the majors this season. They were 472 and 467 feet, respectively. Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) and Mark Trumbo (Angels) are credited with 475-foot shots . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned 28 on Thursday . . . Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow allowed two hits but pitched a scoreless inning for Triple A Pawtucket Thursday. He struck out one against Durham. Breslow, who is coming back from a sore shoulder, has appeared in three minor league games. He is scheduled to pitch this weekend for Pawtucket and will be evaluated at that point . . . Alfredo Aceves pitched six scoreless innings for Pawtucket in his first start since being optioned last week. He allowed two hits, walked four, struck out six, and hit one . . . It was 44 degrees at first pitch at Rangers Ballpark Thursday night, the third-coldest start in stadium history. The Sox open a three-game series in Texas on Friday night and temperatures are expected to be chilly.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.