FORT MYERS, Fla. – Shortstop Stephen Drew appears to be on the mend.
Drew, 30, out with a concussion since March 7, received positive news after undergoing tests at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“He’s improved,” Manager John Farrell said. “He’s not completely cleared but better than he was three days ago.”
Farrell said Drew began “baseball activities” Thursday, meaning he stretched, threw a baseball and swung a bat in the batting cage. But he can’t play in a game yet.
“He’ll progress as tolerated with really no time frame,” Farrell said.
Drew is almost certain to begin the season on the disabled list but could be activated shortly after the opener — as soon as the second game — if he’s ready.
In other injury news, David Ortiz hit in the batting cage for a third straight day. But Farrell said there’s no timetable for taking batting practice outside, let alone run.
THE RED SOX SENT four pitchers to minor league camp. None of the four were on the 40-man roster — Chris Carpenter, Terry Doyle, Chris Hernandez and Oscar Villarreal.
After the cuts, 42 players remain although one (Ryan Kalish) is on the 60-day disabled list.
Drew, Ortiz and relievers Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales are almost certainly going to the disabled list.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is still with the major league club because he was in the World Baseball Classic. Eventually he will be sent to Portland.
THE PITCHING STAFF may be set with starters Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and John Lackey, and relievers Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Clayton Mortensen, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and closer Joel Hanrahan.
Reliever Daniel Bard still has a minor league option. According to General Manager Ben Cherington, Bard “is a lot closer to where he wants to be. There have been a few outings he looked pretty close.”
DRAKE BRITTON will not be suspended by the Red Sox because of his DUI arrest March 2, Cherington said.
“We don’t have reason to believe he will miss time,” Cherington said, adding the Red Sox are dealing with the issue.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with Drake. I’m not going to comment on it. Better to let that process play out behind closed doors.
“I think he is showing a great deal of remorse and understands the gravity of what happened, and is going through the steps to learn from it and move past it.”
Britton is expected to return to the Portland Sea Dogs, where he finished last season. The Sea Dogs open April 4 at home.
Britton is scheduled for a hearing on his DUI charges April 12 in the Lee County (Fla.) court, according to espn.com/Boston.
“There is obviously the legal progression that needs to be worked out,” Cherington said. “We’ll let that work itself out.”
IN THURSDAY NIGHT’S game, the Red Sox beat Philadelphia 6-1 after a five-run seventh inning. Former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino keyed the inning with a three-run triple. Victorino is batting .160 in nine games sandwiched around the World Baseball Classic.
“The more regular at-bats he gets, the better his contact is becoming,” Farrell said.
Dustin Pedroia (.333) went 2 for 2, and Will Middlebrooks (.314) hit his sixth double of the spring.
Starter John Lackey continues to show encouraging results after a year off because of Tommy John surgery. He allowed three hits and one run over five innings. Of the 15 outs recorded, 13 were on the ground, with one fly ball and one strikeout.
Alfredo Aceves will start for Boston on Friday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Jon Lester will pitch in a minor league game.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: