June 17, 2012 at 11:52 AM
|Ryan Kalish (Kelly O'Connor)|
In a move more than a year in the making, the Red Sox recalled Ryan Kalish from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, placing Ryan Sweeney on the disabled list. After a strong rookie showing with the Red Sox in 2010, Kalish suffered a shoulder injury last April that began a chain of events that limited him to 10 games between April 22, 2011 and May 26, 2012. However, with his rehabilitation from a pair of offseason surgeries complete, Kalish went on an impressive rehab assignment, showing that he was finally healthy and ready to return to the majors.
Beginning the year in Ft. Myers rehabbing a pair of offseason surgeries, on his neck and left shoulder, Kalish finally began a rehab assignment on May 26 with Salem. He moved up to Portland after just three games in High-A, and played just three games with the Sea Dogs before a poor weather forecast in that club's upcoming games led to a move to Pawtucket. In nine games with Pawtucket, Kalish played like a man hell-bent on getting back to Boston, going 14-for-37 with four home runs and three steals, his line .378/.477/.757.
Overall, in his 15 minor league games this year, Kalish hit .345/.449/.655 with five home runs and 11 walks in 58 at-bats. Much as with Jed Lowrie's short rehab last season, Kalish's time in the minors may have been cut shorter than the team would have liked and many would have expected due to need in Boston. Kalish played 10 of his 15 games in the outfield, all of them in center field. Although Kalish has played all three outfield positions in the minors and majors, that focus was likely with an eye on him playing center in Boston, where the club has struggled to find a replacement for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury, who has not played since April 13 with, ironically enough, a shoulder injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Eight players have manned center field for the Sox this year, including Marlon Byrd and Scott Podsednik, who were acquired during the season to help bolster the injury-riddled outfield
Kalish made his big league debut in 2010, putting up a solid .252/.305/.405 line in 163 at-bats in August and September, becoming the top-ranked prospect in the system during the offseason according to the SoxProspects.com rankings. Although the club expressed confidence in Kalish's ability to take over as the starter in left field should he be needed, the signing of Carl Crawford pushed Kalish back down to Pawtucket to start 2011 so that he could receive regular at-bats. Although he began the year in Pawtucket, many penciled Kalish in to replace J.D. Drew in right field for Boston in 2012, if not sooner.
But on April 21, Kalish injured his left shoulder diving to make a catch, an injury that he and the Red Sox first attempted to rehab without surgery. That decision began a long, strange trip back to the bigs filled with many false starts, as a neck injury developed during his rehab delayed his return and ultimately helped abort an ill-fated attempt at a rehab assignment last August, which lasted just 10 games. The injuries likely cost Kalish the opportunity to receive regular playing time in Boston, as the ineffectiveness of both Mike Cameron and Drew opened the door for Josh Reddick to receive a great deal of playing time down the stretch. This offseason, Kalish went under the knife to repair his bulging disc in September and a torn labrum in his left shoulder in November.
Sweeney will hit the disabled list with what is being reported as a toe injury. Since being activated from the disabled list on May 28 following a concussion, he has hit just .245/.302/.306 in 18 games, 13 of them starts, walking four times and striking out 13 times. That line falls to .200/.265/.244 if you remove his first game back, a 3-for-4 effort.