FORT MYERS, Fla. — Despite the protestations of both J.D. Drew and manager Terry Francona earlier in camp that the outfielder’s back was not an issue, Drew was sent back to Boston to get an injection in his lower back. The injection, administered by Dr. Bill Palmer, was given yesterday.
“The reason we did it was kind of — I want to explain this right — kind of precautionary,” Francona said. “We have some time right now because it’s so early in March, and J.D., through getting looked at by some different people, thought this could be a benefit to him. If it worked, we think we thought OK, good. If it didn’t seem to do anything, OK, well it’s March 3 or March 2.
“I just think we kind of did to, if we run into a problem later this year, maybe we know a little bit quicker where to go.”
Drew was back with the Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. today. In an interview with NESN’s Heidi Watney before leaving the Red Sox complex for the day, Drew seconded Francona’s assessment.
“Well, you know early on this spring I’m talking about lower back stiffness,” Drew said. “Been working with a chiropractor, started talking a little bit about some of the underlying issues and thinking that the facets might be a little bound up.
“So [I] talked with the training staff a little bit, decided to do an injection in that area to see if that would free up some of the old scar tissue, an old injury, and give me some freer motion in that area. Really a win-win situation. I mean if it doesn’t go well, then it’s not a big deal. If it goes well then we kind of get an idea of what’s going on. So after talking with everybody, decided it would be a good chance to get back early in spring.”
Francona was clear that Drew was not in danger of needing surgery on the back any time in the near future. Drew is expected to take batting practice Thursday, after tomorrow’s day off, and be back in the lineup Friday.
The injection was given in the facet joint, though Francona said he was unsure what was in the injection.
“He was actually doing real well,” Francona said, adding that there has been no additional stiffness. “The day he left, he was hitting balls onto that street. I just think we felt like it was a good time to do it. We weren’t comfortable having it done down here. Bill’s so good. There’s a reason we want him to do these things. So we just thought, again, we’d take advantage of the earliness of camp and try to get it done.”
Drew said he was immediately glad he had the procedure done.
“Yeah, you know it was really encouraging,” he told Watney. “Usually after you get an injection like that, because of the numbing medicine, if you feel relief right away then they’ve kind of got it in the right area. Felt really good getting up off the table, so I was very encouraged by that, and think hopefully this could be kind of a long-term benefit.”
Last year, Drew ended up missing all but two regular season games after Aug. 17. The problem was a herniated disk, and that has continued to contribute to the back stiffness that Drew experienced this offseason. The stiffness was not problematic enough to prevent him from participating in baseball activities. It flared up after long periods of inactivity.
“It’s hard,” Francona said. “It’s one of those where he wakes up one day, says it grabs him, you rest him. I don’t know that it’s something that gets progressively worse over time. Because if that’s the case, we’d certainly rest him. Sometimes I guess guys with backs make a movement and it grabs you and you miss some time.”
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.)