Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 5/12/12
PHOENIX -- Stephen Drews last step in his recovery from a fractured ankle involved leaving his feet. Drew slid for the first time in almost 10 months in pregame work at Chase Field on Saturday afternoon, sliding first on a mat and then on the infield dirt. It could have been cause for trepidation -- Drew had not slid since last July 20, when he caught his spikes on the dirt on a play at the plate and suffered a spiral fracture and ligament damage caused when the ankle dislocated and came 180 degrees out of the socket. He put it back in place himself at home plate. Instead, Drew had some fun with it. With manager Kirk Gibson and the medical staff looking on, Drew took off for his first slide ... and went in head-first, coming up smiling. "The first slide, he was jerking us around. He knew we all were out there to see him," Gibson said. Drew did the rest feet-first, the last slide coming after a hard sprint from first base to third. "It was a good hurdle for him. I think it was a considerable step," Gibson said. "You are kind of looking for acceleration as opposed to him slowing down. You could tell mentally he was prepared to do it. You could tell the way he attacked it. The last one he ran first to third, he had great acceleration. He looked good. Drew has slid both feet-first and head-first in his career, and while Gibson does not believe that will change, he also believes Drew will have no reservations the first time he has to go feet-first in a game. Drew did the sliding drills instead of playing in an extended spring training game Saturday. The final phase of his recovery will be when he plays nine innings and then in back-to-back games. He played six innings Thursday. There is still no timetable for his return. Drew's advance was part of an eventful 24 hours for Gibson, who spent time with comedian Lewis Black and a small group of friends after Fridays 5-1 victory over the Giants. The acerbic Black is a regular on The Daily Show. In the course of the night, Blacks group texted Tony La Russa and got him on the phone. Gibson considers La Russa a mentor and friend, and they talked about how things can change over the course of a long season. "It's really about the second half of the season, which he would certainly have a fresh memory of," Gibson said of La Russa, whose St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series after qualifying for the postseason on the final day of the regular season. "You don't want to totally disintegrate in the first half. You want to be like the Dodgers (21-11). Were not, but at the same time we keep pushing and keep trying to play better baseball with more consistent pitching and fundamentals. And try build momentum into the season. You dont want to get too far behind," Gibson said. "Tony set a high standard for us all." Black is in Phoenix to raise money for the Bill of Rights project, which will erect a statue of the Bill of Rights at the Wesley Bolin Plaza in downtown Phoenix at a cost of 400,000. Black, Bobcat Goldthwait, Steven Wright and and other comedians will appear at a benefit concert at Phoenix Symphony Hall on Sunday. "It was a pretty good day for us," Gibson said. "We had a good game yesterday, chilled out and got some comedy and humor in me -- and some wisdom. Once glass of wine, one water and good conversation."
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