PORTLAND — Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew went 0 for 3 in a rehab appearance Thursday night with the Portland Sea Dogs. He fielded one grounder and threw a runner out.

And most importantly, he stayed healthy.

“He looked good. Said he felt good,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “Got through the five innings. Hopefully we’ll build him up.”

Drew left after five innings and wasn’t available for comment. He will be back Friday night with the Sea Dogs and probably will stay through Sunday.

Drew, coming back from a concussion suffered early in spring training, was in Florida at the beginning of the week. He played in a handful of extended spring training games.

“My (timing) was a little off but better than expected,” Drew said before the game.

Drew spent a good deal of time Thursday at Hadlock, with extra batting practice and fielding drills in the afternoon.

“Kind of get my legs under me a little bit,” Drew said. “But there’s nothing like getting out on the field and seeing live arms.”

In the first inning, Drew hit a grounder in the hole that second baseman Jose Pirela reached. Drew was thrown out but got the RBI when Shannon Wilkerson scored.

In the third, Drew hit a hard line drive, but shortstop Walter Ibarra was cheating toward second base and gloved it.

Drew struck out looking in the fifth.

In the field, Drew charged a slow bouncer and threw to second for a force.

DRAKE BRITTON lasted only three innings in his first start. He made an error and gave up three home runs.

But it was baseball, and Britton knows he’s fortunate to be playing the game.

Britton made news this spring training when he was arrested for driving under the influence. He has declined to comment on the incident. There are unresolved legal issues, and Britton has a court date in Florida next week.

The Red Sox allowed him to keep pitching after his arrest.

“Obviously it was more difficult than usual,” Britton said. “But I still had to perform and do the things I had to do. It was tough, but I did it.”

Baseball became a release for Britton. As for the situation he got himself into, Britton said he’s learned from it.

“Very life-changing,” Britton said.

KEITH COUCH was the first reliever out of the bullpen and lasted as long as the starter, going three innings. No problem for Couch. He was stretched out as a starter during spring training.

Relieving wasn’t a role Couch was expecting. A 13th-round draft pick in 2010, Couch has been a starter for three years.

With two days left in spring training, Couch was told he would be a reliever.

“It was tough,” Couch said.

Couch gave up one hit – a two-out, two-run double that followed an error and a walk. Neither of the runs was earned. He struck out four.

One reason for Couch’s transition to the bullpen was the addition of Kyle Kaminska, acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh last December.

Kaminska had been a starter and reliever in the Marlins’ organization. When the Pirates got Kaminska in the middle of last season, they made him a starter again, a role the Red Sox want him to continue. Kaminska will start Saturday’s game.

CATCHER MATT SPRING was deactivated to get the Sea Dogs’ roster down to the required 25 players. Spring, 28, who re-signed with the Boston organization, will remain with the club, one of the three catchers in Portland.

“He knows how to get the best out of a pitcher, whether it be in a workout or the game,” Boles said. “Him, (Christian) Vazquez and (Alberto) Rosario fed off each other in spring training. We’ve got some top guys on the mound. We’re making sure we have the right catchers for them.”

Vazquez, 22, is the No. 1 catcher and a top prospect. Rosario, 26, like Spring is a minor league free agent.

RYAN PRESSLY, who pitched in Portland last year, became the 200th former Sea Dogs player to appear in a major league game when he pitched a scoreless inning Thursday for the Minnesota Twins.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases