Takeaways: Drew still faces uncertainty

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
5:52
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where shortstop Stephen Drew's continuing issues with concussive symptoms, a week after he was struck in the helmet by a pitch by Minnesota left-hander Caleb Thielbar, should serve as a reminder that there is no greater fiction than a "mild" concussion. You bruise your brain, which is what a concussion is, and the word "mild" should be banned from the conversation.

Drew was hit a week ago in Hammond Stadium, where the Sox on Thursday beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3, with Jose Iglesias starting at short and Brock Holt replacing him in the sixth inning. Drew said he initially thought he was OK after being struck and remained in the game, but later began to experience dizziness and light-headedness.

[+] EnlargeStephen Drew
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsRed Sox shortstop Stephen Drew doesn't have a timetable for a return to action after suffering a concussion last week.
Under a protocol adopted by Major League Baseball before the 2012 season, Drew must pass some online testing before he is allowed to resume playing. The Sox had hoped that he would have a workday Thursday, manager John Farrell said, but he exhibited more symptoms before the team left the facility for the short bus ride here and he was to undergo further testing back at JetBlue Park.

Are the Sox concerned that this might be more than a short-term issue?

"You really never know," Farrell said. "These are so case-by-case. We're certainly hopeful that it's not. Based on the impact at the time, it didn't seem like a direct blow but yet we're certainly not taking this lightly. We'll go through every precautionary step that we need to."

Drew signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract as a free agent this winter, after a fractured ankle sidelined him for 11 months and severely hindered his performance, ultimately leading to his trade from Arizona to Oakland.

There would seem to be time before the April 1 start of the regular season for Drew to be ready, but the Twins can tell the Sox a few things about the debilitating effect of concussions. Former AL MVP Justin Morneau sustained a concussion midway through the 2010 season while sliding into second base and missed the rest of the season, then sustained another concussion in 2011 that limited his play. The career of former Twins third baseman Cory Koskie ended when he could not recover from post-concussion syndrome.

No one is saying that Drew's case is comparable to either of those players'. What they are saying, however, is that they are making no predictions and proceeding cautiously.

Last spring, Red Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney was one of the first players to fall under the new MLB protocol, failing a test after displaying concussive symptoms following a diving catch in Philadelphia. It was mandatory for the Sox to place him on the seven-day DL designed for such injuries.

"They're pretty tough," Sweeney said of the tests at the time. "One's like a written one, which somebody reads to you. It's basically just like memorization, reaction times. There's a computer test that's reaction times, remembering words, shapes, colors, it's the whole nine yards.

"It's a good test. You take a baseline to see what you can do after you have a concussion and before you have a concussion."

* Ryan Dempster went four innings in his fourth spring start, Minnesota's only run coming on an opposite-field home run by Chris Parmelee. Dempster threw 73 pitches, 43 for strikes, giving up three hits, walking two and striking out one. The two walks were the first he has issued in 12 2/3 innings this spring. He's settling in nicely as a reliable third option behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

* Daniel Bard gave up a walk and a single to the first two batters he faced in the sixth, then retired the next three hitters in succession, striking out Oswaldo Arcia, one of the Twins' better prospects, retiring Eric Flyer on a fly ball, and inducing Pedro Florimon to ground out to first. It was the third successive positive outing for Bard, who topped out at 96 mph, according to one scout, and sat at 93-94 mph.

"I made a couple of pitches when I had to, I guess," he said.

Midway through camp, what is he thinking?

"It's just day-to-day, working through, getting a feel for the mechanics, trying to iron out the things that aren't quite right. It's been nice to be able to go out there and feel comfortable on the mound again. I didn't have that feeling most of the second half last year. Just being comfortable and really feeling like I'm in control on the mound has been great. I look forward to keep doing it for a long time."

* Will Middlebrooks drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in a four-run second inning. The wind knocked it down, preventing a grand slam. "I crushed it," he said.

* Koji Uehara has yet to be scored upon this spring, though he finally allowed baserunners in his sixth inning of exhibition work, the Twins loading the bases on a bunt single and two walks. But Uehara induced Morneau to pop out, ending the threat.

* Jacoby Ellsbury was credited with an infield hit on a ball that pitcher Mike Pelfrey should have fielded. Ellsbury also doubled, his second extra-base hit of the spring. He also walked, scored twice and drove in a run.

* Lyle Overbay (announced here as "Luke") and Mike Carp split DH duties. The two primary contenders for backup first baseman are both hitting .240.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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