The Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the National League West last season, have stumbled out of the gate in 2012. One player missing from last year’s roster, Stephen Drew, who was sidelined last summer after suffering a gruesome ankle injury, is getting close to making a return to the majors, but when he does, who will go?

Drew’s long road back to the majors is almost complete. In three games for Triple-A Reno, he has recorded a .308/.308/.692 slash line with one home run, and looked solid in the field. Reno manager Brett Butler plans to play Drew in every other game, until he feels his ankle can hold up on an every-day basis. Drew didn’t suffer a normal ankle injury, it was a fracture that ripped three ligaments while sliding into home plate last July.

Drew’s rehab hasn’t been a quiet one though. Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick took to a radio station last week and had these words regarding Drew’s recovery and rehab.

I’m going to be real candid and say Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where he is going to be a year from now than going ahead and supporting the team that is paying his salary.  All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity.  We have our concerns.

Drew is due to make $7.75 million this year, highest paid player on the roster, and the team has a mutual option for $10 million next season. So, is inserting him back at short when he returns a guarantee?  In all likelihood, yes. Drew posted a 5.1 fWAR in 2010 with a .278/.352/.458 slash line. That year, he had 15 home runs and a .354 wOBA. For his career, 733 games to date, he has a .270/.330/.442 line with a combined 12.0 fWAR.

Arizona’s shortstops this year have combined for a .292/.330/.423 slash line with three home runs. Willie Bloomquist, and fan-favorite, John McDonald have continued to get on base, and supply passable defense. Drew’s return would mean less playing time for Bloomquist, unless the team decides to move him to third. McDonald is likely safe on the roster, meaning the odd man out would be infielder Josh Bell.

It’s hard to believe, but when Drew finally returns he will essentially replace one of the few areas in which the Diamondbacks have been getting quality offensive production.