NEW YORK — Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew, out since March 7 because of a concussion, was cleared to play by Major League Baseball and played in an extended spring training game in Florida Tuesday.
Drew played three innings in the field and was 1 for 3 with a double.
It was a major step for Drew, whose spring training came to a halt when he felt dizzy and had problems with his vision after being hit in the head with a pitch.
Drew was cleared to start baseball activities March 17 but needed further testing to get in games.
Because Drew had only 18 plate appearances before he was injured he likely will need at least a week of games to get prepared. He is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday.
Jose Iglesias started at shortstop on Opening Day for the Sox and had three infield hits.
Iglesias has shown great improvement this season at the plate. But Drew, who was signed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal, will be the starter once he is deemed ready.
All lined up
Triple A Pawtucket will have Steven Wright, Allen Webster, Chris Hernandez, Terry Doyle, and Rubby De La Rosa start their first five games this season. The PawSox open Thursday at Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Wright, Webster, Hernandez, and De La Rosa are all prospects. Doyle is a 27-year-old former Boston College player who spent his career in the White Sox organization with the exception of three starts in Japan to close last season.
Wright is 28 but still considered a prospect because he is only in his third season of throwing a knuckleball. Webster is 23 and Hernandez and De La Rosa are 24.
De La Rosa threw only 13⅔ innings last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox plan to limit him to three innings or 50 pitches early in the season as a result. Graham Godfrey will work in tandem with De La Rosa.
Godfrey, a 28-year-old righthander, was obtained from Oakland in November. He is 1-6 with a 5.09 earned run average in 10 major league appearances.
Cubs sign Sweeney
Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who was released by the Sox on Saturday, signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. He turned down an opportunity to play in Pawtucket.
“I haven’t been in Triple A since 2006,” Sweeney told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “I don’t feel like I’m a Triple A player.”
At least not with the PawSox.
Talent at Portland
Double A Portland, which opens at home Thursday, will feature shortstop Xander Bogaerts, catcher Christian Vazquez, and starting pitchers Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman. The Sox also have assigned reliever Daniel Bard there to continue working through his control issues . . . The Sox sent four of their better young prospects — lefthander Henry Owens, catcher Blake Swihart, third baseman Garin Cecchini, and shortstop Deven Marrero — to High Single A Salem.
University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, a Jackie Bradley Jr. fan, wore a Red Sox cap to spring practice Tuesday in support of the rookie left fielder . . . The Sox signed 26-year-old Brandon Snyder to play first base at Pawtucket. He has played 56 games over parts of three seasons with Baltimore and Texas and hit .276 with three home runs. Texas released him out of spring training last week. Snyder was the 13th overall pick of the 2005 draft by the Orioles . . . Fenway Park has new padding on its outfield walls and a new net behind home plate, according to Promats Athletics, the North Carolina-based company that installed the upgrades. There are 1,000 feet of new, three-inch padding in the outfield. The safety net behind the plate is 15 feet high and 100 feet wide.
Uptick in ticket sales
Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said season ticket sales are now lagging about 8 percent behind last season’s pace after spending most of the offseason 10 percent down.
“Season ticket renewals have picked up a bit,” Kennedy indicated via text. “We have seen a bump the past week.”
Despite the slight uptick, Kennedy still anticipates the 793-game ticket distribution streak, which began May 15, 2003, and is the longest in major league history, to end in April.
The Sox open their home schedule April 8 vs. Baltimore and play the Orioles for three games before Tampa Bay comes in for four games through Patriots Day. After a three-game series in Cleveland, the Red Sox will then host Kansas City, Oakland, and Houston to close out the month.
After a September collapse in 2011 and a 69-win, last-place finish in ’12, the Sox have anticipated that some fans would fall off the bandwagon. They have tried to get fans back by keeping ticket prices status quo and also reducing food prices.