Outfielder Ryan Kalish burst onto the scene as the Boston Red Sox rookie of the year in 2010. The sky was the limit. J.D. Drew was just keeping the seat warm for the kid with the “Jersey Shore” swagger and the boat load of talent he was carrying around with him. In just 53 games with the Sox, Kalish hit .252 with 4 homers and 24 RBI. Kalish announced to the world that he was ready through his actions, that included acrobatic catches and dramatic home runs. Boston wanted him to play every day, so they sent him to Pawtucket to start the 2011 season. After just as handful of games, Kalish injured his shoulder making a diving catch at McCoy Stadium on April 21. It was a lost season. Ryan is on the road to recovery and is hoping for a return sometime in May or June. “It was a crazy year in 2011 and I’m hoping for a change in 2012.”
At the time, no one had any idea of the severity of Kalish’ injury. It was tough for the 23 year old to watch his teammates and not get to play. “Yeah, it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. It was a season of opportunities. That being said, I was happy for others who got a chance, especially Josh (Reddick). It’s frustrating, but everybody goes through injuries. It’s part of the game.”
After surgeries to his shoulder and neck, Kalish is chomping at the bit, waiting to get back to action. “I’m hoping to get back soon, but you never know. You just keep chugging along, but you never really know.” Despite being so highly bregarded, Ryan isn’t taking anything for granted. He knows he’ll have to earn a spot when he is healthy. “Nothing’s ever guaranteed, especially in this game. It’s something I just want to go out and get. You can’t ever expect anything just be given to you. That’s not the way you’d want it anyway.”
After getting a taste of life in the Big Leagues, Kalish knows what is in store when he’s ready. “It’s the ultimate. Fenway Park is so fun. It’s the ultimate for a player. It gives me more incentive. It’s been frustrating that I haven’t been able to play for so long. It’s baseball. It’s life. If I can get through it, I can look back on it like all the other guys who have ever been hurt, and say ‘That was it? That wasn’t so bad.’ “
Kalish isn’t the only one making adjustments under new manager, Bobby Valentine. His recent ban on alcohol in the Boston clubhouse is not big deal, according to Kalish. “It’s all good. Bobby’s got to take care of whatever he’s got to take care of. He calls the shots and we want to play hard for him. It was a crazy end to last year and whatever he says is good.”
Kalish spent ample time rehabbing at the new facility in Fort Myers this winter and was ecstatic to be joined by his friends and teammates at “Fenway South”. “It got boring. I’m glad the guys are down here now and we are ready to play some baseball. The last month of last season was hard to watch. This is a championship caliber type team. Everyone is eager to get started.”
That includes Ryans’ best friend in baseball, Lars Anderson. The former number one prospect endured a whirlwind 2011. The first baseman was traded to Oakland for pitcher Rich Harden, only to have the deal negated when Harden failed his physical. Kalish was there for his friend and was proud of the way he reacted. “Last year was wild for “Larzy”. I’ll tell you what. His game is coming around. Obviously, he’s behind Adrian Gonzalez and that is a tough situation, but he’s just so positive. He came into camp looking the best I’ve ever seen him. His swing looks good. He trained hard during the offseason. He’s looking really fresh. I have a good feeling about him this season. You can mark my words, right here.” Kalish’ prophecy came true shortly thereafter, when Anderson smacked a grand slam in Fort Myers in an exhibition game against the Twins and pitcher Jason Bulger.
If Anderson and his friend Ryan Kalish are in the middle of the PawSox lineup in 2012, it’s going to be a great summer at McCoy.