Stephen Drew ready to go nine innings

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Stephen Drew is getting closer to returning to the Arizona lineup. He’ll play nine innings in extended spring games both Friday and Saturday as he further steps up his rehab.

Drew has been on the DL all season after suffering a broken ankle sliding into home plate last July 20. The Diamondbacks, though, have gotten good shortstop play in his absence, particularly from John McDonald. Their shortstops have a .777 OPS this season (.916 from McDonald, .701 from Willie Bloomquist).

If this weekend goes well, it seems a given that Drew will begin a minor league rehab assignment next week with an eye towards rejoining the Diamondbacks in mid-June. He’s not pain-free, but that’s probably not going to change at any point during the season.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.