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Kalish is shouldering emotional load

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 11, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Intellectually, Ryan Kalish understands the position he is in. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in November and that takes at least six months to heal.

It’s the emotional aspects of the situation that the 23-year-old outfielder is having trouble with.

“People tried to explain it to me, but I never realized how difficult this was going to be,’’ Kalish said Saturday. “It’s rough. This whole process has honestly been the biggest challenge of my life so far. It has been tough.’’

Kalish was rushed to the majors in 2010, playing 53 games for an injury-riddled Red Sox team. He hit only .252, but had four home runs, stole 10 bases, and played all three outfield positions well. His future looked bright.

The Red Sox wanted Kalish to finish his development in Triple A last season in preparation for what they envisioned would be a long run in right field.

But Kalish injured his shoulder playing for Pawtucket in April attempting to make a diving catch. Surgery was considered, but the decision was made to let his shoulder heal with rest and rehabilitation.

Kalish came back to play in August but lasted only 10 games because of a bulging disk in his neck.

He had surgery on his neck in September. Shoulder surgery followed two months later when the medical staff gave up on the idea that rest would heal the tear.

“It’s nobody’s fault,’’ said Kalish. “You never want to rush into surgery. But the whole thing was frustrating.’’

Had Kalish been healthy, he almost surely would have been playing regularly in the majors last season. J.D. Drew started only 65 games because of an assortment of injuries, leaving Josh Reddick, Darnell McDonald, and others to fill in.

“To be that close to being an everyday guy for this team and having it taken all away, it was hard,’’ Kalish said. “It’s still hard. But when I get back, I’m going to have a new appreciation for everything. And I think I’ll be better than ever. I’ll come back stronger.’’

Kalish has started a throwing program, and within the next week hopes to start swinging a bat. He still isn’t allowed to run the bases.

His progress is measured in small, carefully controlled steps. Kalish does rehabilitation work early in the day, shadows the team workouts, and then lifts weights. He works far more with the trainers than he does with the coaches.

“I’m very limited still,’’ he said. “But it’s coming.’’

Kalish also is learning to deal with contact lenses, something he was prescribed last month when his precamp physical detected a slight deterioration in his vision.

“I guess this is the rehab of my life,’’ he said. “I’m getting everything fixed. I kind of like them. I’m getting used to them more every day. It’s good to have better vision.’’

When the Red Sox break camp, Kalish will be sentenced to another month or two at JetBlue Park, working on his own to get back.

“This is usually such a great time of the year,’’ he said. “But for me it’s going to take a little longer. I just need to wait for my time.’’

Cook to pitch

Jon Lester is scheduled to start against the Orioles Sunday afternoon and go four innings. Aaron Cook will follow him to the mound.

Cook, a 33-year-old righthander, is in camp on a minor league deal after spending his entire career with the Rockies. He was 3-10 with a 6.03 ERA in 18 games last season.

Cook, who started slowly because of a pre-existing shoulder injury, has only an outside shot at being in the rotation to start the season.

“Maybe, but probably not - but maybe,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “It depends on what we can get out of him tomorrow. If the next day he’s pain-free and ready to go, we might be able to accelerate some innings. But those innings are becoming more scarce now.’’

Cook is a sinkerball pitcher who, when healthy, can handle a lot of innings.

Bard shuts down Rays

Daniel Bard threw 48 pitches over three scoreless innings as the Sox beat the Rays, 5-0, Saturday night.

It was the longest outing for Bard since 2007, when he was a starter in Single A. He allowed two hits and two walks and struck out one.

“I really didn’t feel much different. Body feels good,’’ Bard said. “I feel like I had more pitches in me. Hopefully that feeling keeps up. I’m sure there will be some kind of ceiling I hit where I start to feel that fatigue.’’

Alfredo Aceves also threw three scoreless innings. He has been close to perfect in five innings this spring, allowing two hits without a walk and striking out four.

Kevin Youkilis and Josh Kroeger each had RBI doubles. Two other runs scored on a three-base error by Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, who dropped a deep fly ball off the bat of Jose Iglesias in the second inning.

Maddon lauded

Valentine doesn’t know Rays manager Joe Maddon very well. But he admires what he has done with that team.

“I like what he does and how he does it,’’ Valentine said. “I think a lot of the managers I kind of like are guys who are unpredictable. Guys who manage with character, not for reputation, if that makes any sense.

“They don’t care necessarily what everyone else is thinking about them, they’re doing what they think is right. I think he does that. His gamesmanship is real good. His in-game housekeeping is good and I like his banter, whatever his act is. I kind of like it.’’

Valentine let out a loud laugh when asked if he was talking about himself.

“The idea about being unpredictable, I hope that I’m unpredictable,’’ he said. “Most of the guys who I managed against who I thought were pretty good managers were predictably unpredictable.

“You could be sure that you’re not sure. Whether it’s the first inning or the ninth inning, I think that’s important. A general in combat cannot always go around the right flank. It just doesn’t work all the time.’’

Miller progressing

Andrew Miller, who missed his turn Thursday because of a stiff elbow, played long toss Saturday and could throw in the bullpen Sunday. “Andrew feels great,’’ said Valentine. “He missed a beat but he didn’t miss a full step.’’ . . . Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales, who has yet to pitch because of a weak shoulder, is throwing again. But Valentine wouldn’t say when he might get in a game. “There’s a plan for him,’’ the manager said. “It’s not unreasonable to think he’s going to be charging hard when the season gets here.’’ . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 40 pitches in the bullpen. Pitching coach Bob McClure has worked with Matsuzaka on making his delivery more compact to prevent further such injuries . . . The Sox have two games against the Orioles in Sarasota Sunday, a “B’’ game at 10 a.m. and the major league game at 1:05 p.m. Asked if he would manage both games, Valentine said, “You bet. My kind of day, baby.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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