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May 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Kalish: 'It's been such a long process'

Ryan Kalish (Kelly O'Connor)
FREDERICK, Md. -- Outfielder Ryan Kalish will make his 2012 debut Saturday night against Orioles’ phenom Dylan Bundy and the Frederick Keys (BAL), marking another step in the long and, at times, frustrating march back to the big leagues for the former top prospect.

“It’s going to be fun,” Kalish, who will hit third as Salem’s designated hitter Saturday night, said. “It’s been such a long process. I’ve been out since April of last year, so I’m just excited to be around the guys, be around teammates. I’m just excited to play. It’s pretty crazy, how I viewed baseball a year ago to where I view it now. I’m just happy to play and get out there, run around, have some fans.”

The 2011 season was a frustrating one for Kalish, who opened the season with Pawtucket after playing 53 games for Boston in 2010. He injured his shoulder on a diving catch in mid-April and rehabbed the injury until August before neck pains ended his season. He hit just .209 in 22 games for Pawtucket.

Kalish ultimately had surgery on his left shoulder labrum in November 2011, and has been in Fort Myers rehabbing for the last several months.

Kalish said he would be with Salem for “about four days,” though he didn’t know the next stop of his rehab or how long he would be in the minors. He began playing in extended spring training games on Monday, May 14, and said he’s worked up to five at-bats and seven innings in the field. He will likely play in the outfield tomorrow.

“It’s just a process, day by day,” he said. “Sometimes, you kind of feel like it’ll never end, and I felt like that for a while. Now, here I am playing with the guys, just trying to make my way back to where I want to be.”

Had it not been for the myriad of injuries that kept him in extended spring training, Kalish might have made it back sooner. Boston’s outfield needs have been well documented, but Kalish said the big league outfield situation hasn't made his rehab any worse.

“I’m happy for every guy that gets an opportunity,” he said. “Most of those guys were happy for me when I was getting mine, so this is just the way the cards fell. I was hurt, and my job now is to create my own opportunity again. I’m going to work to at it, give everything I can to that, and see where life takes me.”

Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.