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Drew opens his season on track

Drew opens his season on track

CINCINNATI -- Stephen Drew knows it's early, but he also is aware that a bad start can turn into a frustrating season. The 2007 season taught him that.

Drew caught the flu during the first week of last season, got off to a bad start plate and spent the rest of the year trying unsuccessfully to pull himself out of it. After batting .316 in half a season in 2006, he wound up with a .238 mark for 2007.

This year, the D-backs' shortstop began to catch fire at the plate towards the end of Spring Training, and on Wednesday night collected a homer and a double against the Reds.

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"The last week to 10 days of spring he started swinging the bat better," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "He can swing it and we expect him to have a better year offensively."

Drew expects the same, and while he's pleased with how he's been feeling at the plate, it's a cautious optimism.

"I feel good, but it's still early," he said. "And the main thing is how you finish. It does, though, help when you get off to a good start. It feels better to get you feet wet, have some success and get going."

With Conor Jackson and Chris Snyder out of the lineup, Drew found himself hitting fifth rather than the seventh he hit in the first two games.

Jackson is still battling a virus of some sort that caused him to be taken to the hospital during Tuesday's game.

"He probably could play, but probably not a good idea to run him out there," Melvin said.

Chris Burke got the start at first in Jackson's place, and it's likely he could see time against the three left-handers the Rockies are throwing in the weekend series with the D-backs. Maybe at first, but possibly at other positions.

Snyder, meanwhile, was given the day off with the day game following a night game.

"I'm just not going to run him into the ground early on," Melvin said of Snyder.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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