FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shortstop Stephen Drew visit with a leading concussion specialist yielded mostly good news Thursday.
Drew was cleared to resume baseball activities, though it's a virtual certainty he'll begin the year on the disabled list. His time on the DL, however, could be very brief. Major League Baseball has a seven-day DL for concussion cases and Drew could be backdated four days from the start of the regular season and be eligible to play in the team's second game, in New York, on April 3.
To help facilitate just such a scenario, the Red Sox plan to limit Drew to minor-league spring training games the rest of the way. If Drew played in any Grapefruit League games with paying customers, it would limit the team's ability to backdate him when the season opens.
General manager Ben Cherington said the team was dealing with the increasing likelihood that Drew, signed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal last winter, won't be in uniform on Opening Day.
"We'll probably have a better sense of that by the end of the weekend,'' said Cherington, "but we're certainly fighting the calendar a little bit. We don't want him to be in a position where he's having to rush at-bats just to make it for a certain date. But [it's] generally good news and he seems to be heading in the right direction.''
Drew traveled to Pittsburgh Tuesday night to meet with Dr. Michael Collins, who administered a day-long series of tests Wednesday.
"We're just going to progress as he feels able to do,'' said Cherington. "He feels better every day. There's certainly an element of the unknown on this sort of thing. On the day it happened, we felt like it was something he was going to get past. But there's less of a blueprint on this kind of thing, so we have to take it a day at a time. As long as he still feeling anything, we're going to be cautious and we'll continue to be cautious.''
Drew was scheduled on Thursday to stretch with the rest of the roster and begin a throwing program, then take some batting practice in the cage.
"I think more than anything,'' said manager John Farrell, "Stephen comes away with some renewed confidence, based on the findings from Dr. Collins. He'll progress as tolerated, with really, no time frame for getting back in a game yet.''
Farrell added that Drew, while cleared, isn't yet totally asymptomatic.
"He's improved,'' said Farrell. "I would say it's not completely cleared. But [he's] better than he was three days ago, before he left. He's been given some vision drills to perform at the recommendation of Dr. Collins.
"I would say based on Dr. Collins's finding, he was encouraged to see him in person and taking him through a battery of tests. So Stephen comes away with a better grasp of what he's dealing with and a little bit more confident in the short turn.''
In Drew's absence, Jose Iglesias has seen the majority of playing time at shortstop and will likely be the team's shortstop on Opening Day.
With the seven-day DL, Drew can be backdated four days before the start of the regular season. The MLB regular season officially starts Sunday, March 31, when Houston and Texas play, which would count as the fifth day. April 1, when the Sox play the Yankees would be Day No. 6 and a scheduled off-day on Tuesday April 2 would be the seventh and final day, making Drew eligible to make his Red Sox debut in the second game of the season.