Putz still sidelined; Drew returns to lineup

Putz still sidelined; Drew returns to lineup

Putz still sidelined; Drew returns to lineup
PHOENIX -- The D-backs are still not sure when closer J.J. Putz will be able to return from the back stiffness that shut him down Friday, but the team did get a boost when shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup on Sunday against the A's and third baseman Geoff Blum should be back in the next few days.

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Putz was scratched from his appearance on Friday when he suffered back stiffness while warming up.

"He's improved," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Putz. "Possibly thinking about letting him play catch [Monday]. That's kind of where we're at right now."

So is he encouraged by that?

"Could be worse, yeah," Gibson said. "Doesn't mean he will [play catch]. But our guys are pretty good and they wouldn't even be thinking about that if they thought it was something in a bad area. That's not to say it couldn't be something worse than they think."

Drew, who left Wednesday's game with abdominal tightness, played four innings and got a pair of at-bats on Sunday.

"It felt all right," Drew said. "I still feel it, not as bad. Just going day-by-day and doing a lot of work on it. Hopefully in the next day or two it will start to go away."

Drew said he was hopeful he would play again on Monday.

"I'd like to just to keep seeing the pitches and keeping track of everything," Drew said. "I feel really good so I don't want to lose that feeling at the plate."

Blum was going to have his right knee re-examined on Monday. The veteran experienced some swelling in the knee last week and the team has been cautious with him since.

"I've been doing hitting and throwing and stuff, but the doc said that running and ground balls might irritate it a little more so I'm trying to hold off on that for a little bit until I see him again [Monday] and get the OK," Blum said.