BOSTON -- While there is no firm timetable for when J.D. Drew will make his way back to the Red Sox's lineup, Tuesday's pregame batting practice before the team's matchup with Cleveland was certainly a promising step forward.
Drew, who is battling a herniated disk in his lower back that's kept him out of the lineup since Aug. 17, arrived at Fenway Park feeling much improved. It was enough to get him onto the field for an early round of batting practice.
"This is as encouraged as he's been in a long time," manager Terry Francona said. "We were going to maybe work in the cage and get out to the field. He wants to go directly to the field."
Once at the plate, Drew showed little sign of discomfort. He laced line drive after line drive to the outfield, smacking a handful of balls to the wall right in front of the bullpens in right field. One shot was a foul ball around the Pesky Pole.
Drew received a cortisone shot on Sept. 12, but it didn't speed his recovery. He had an epidural on Monday.
Drew is hitting .280 this season with 19 homers and 64 RBIs, sporting a .408 on-base percentage. His presence at the plate and in right field would certainly aid Boston in the postseason.
As for Mike Lowell, Francona said the third baseman was hopeful to hit in the batting cage behind the Red Sox's dugout before the game. Lowell, who is battling a partial tear of the labrum in his right hip, could get onto the field and hit batting practice as early as Wednesday.
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.