Nationals glad to have Drew back from DL

Nationals glad to have Drew back from DL

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals got a huge boost to their bench as they began this West Coast road trip, as infielder Stephen Drew was activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's game against the Giants.

Drew only appeared in eight games this season before he was sidelined with a right hamstring strain that forced him to miss 41 games. Washington had been carrying an extra pitcher on its roster, so left-hander Matt Grace was sent to Triple-A Syracuse in a corresponding move.

"[Drew] gives us some veteran leadership and also some veteran play," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "We just hope that we brought him back in time. We don't want him to go back down. He gives us a rest for some of our big guys on the infield."

The path to rehabbing his hamstring was not as smooth for Drew, who said he had never dealt with the injury before. The Nationals had trouble finding a place for him to complete a Minor League rehab assignment between cold temperatures in Syracuse and rain in Charlotte that postponed their road games.

Eventually, they sent Drew to their facility in West Palm Beach where he took grounders, ran and played in a few extended spring games.

"Lord willing, I don't have this thing come back because you see guys that have it and just sometimes they don't want to heal up," Drew said. "You give it all you've got and I think we did a good job with the rehab process. Hopefully everything pans out well."

Heisey begins rehab assignment

Another key bat off the bench could return much sooner than expected, as Chris Heisey began a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Monday. Heisey was placed on the DL on Wednesday with a biceps rupture; however, after undergoing an MRI he found out he was cleared to play as long as the pain subsided.

He took batting practice and did some baseball activity during the weekend, and Baker said he was surprised Heisey was ready for a rehab assignment already.

"Very surprised," Baker said. "I got the call from Mike [Rizzo], and I was like, man, somebody gave him some miracle drugs. It's good news. But I was told that various guys have had the same injury and still played. ... Boy, if you're going to get hurt, I guess you got to hurt something that you really don't need. ... I think it's a miracle that he's able to play at this time."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.