SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A noticeably slimmer Geoff Blum reported to camp Wednesday, two days before position players had to be there.
Blum was signed to a two-year contract prior to the 2011 season and was expected to see significant time at third base.
However, a right knee injury forced him to miss the first 92 games of the season, and once he returned it was only a matter of days before he fractured his right pinkie and had to miss another 35 days.
"You're trying to make an impression on your new team and you blow out," Blum said of how spring went last year for him. "Not good."
Blum said he shed about 10 pounds during the offseason in order to reduce the stress on his knee, changing up his usual offseason routine as well.
"I couldn't do a lot of the weight bearing things and stuff like that," Blum said.
The D-backs will take things slowly with Blum this spring to try and avoid a repeat of last year.
"He looks like he's in great shape," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He had a tough spring last year, so we're going to try and avoid that. Blummer will be a guy we want to be smart with. We don't want to have him come out here and overdo it, and then we're back where we were last year."
Drew encouraged after taking grounders
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After taking Wednesday off, shortstop Stephen Drew once again took grounders Thursday and reported progress in his rehab from the broken ankle that ended his season last July.
"It's coming along well, a little better than what I thought overall," Drew said. "Still, lateral [movements] like everything is going to need improvement."
Drew took grounders for the first time Monday and Tuesday before taking Wednesday off to recover. He was pleasantly surprised to see how good he felt Thursday.
"The healing is coming along and I'm pretty excited about that because there was a time there that when I would do things like [Monday and Tuesday] and I would have to shut it down for three or four days and let it kind of calm down," Drew said.
Drew was able to make a nice backhanded stab while planting on the surgically-repaired right ankle to make the throw to first. He also made a nice play on a ball up the middle. Going to his left is still more of a challenge than his right.
"He is moving very well, but he's far from being able to play in a game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I think we half worried he would be really hobbled at this point, but he's worked very hard. He's in great shape physically, and his mind is in a good spot and he's very determined so we're encouraged by where he's at, no question."
After Thursday, so was Drew.
"Without a doubt," he said. "Like I said, the first two days were kind of getting into it, today I felt like I had a little more hop to my step, which was a good thing. If that happens every day, it's going to be a good thing."
Gibson defends Kubel's defense
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson made it clear Thursday that he does not expect defense to be a problem when it comes to left fielder Jason Kubel, who was signed to a two-year contract this past offseason.
Some have cited advanced defensive metrics in saying Kubel is below average with the glove, but Gibson is not buying it.
"I'm not sure how to explain [how] people get labeled," Gibson said. "I know Kubel makes us a better team. He does things that make us a better team. We're very excited to have him. He'll be just fine out there."
Gibson said Kubel is better defensively than he was during his playing career. The only thing that matters to Gibson is whether Kubel helps the team win games.
"I guarantee you he's a heck of a lot better outfielder than I was, and I was a [world] champion two times," Gibson said. "I was brutal, but I found a way to get it done and that's what we're looking for. We're not looking for sexy, we're looking for results."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.