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Energetic Kalish providing dash of excitement

With hustle, he put winning run in motion

By Alex Prewitt
Globe Correspondent / June 22, 2012
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To honor a new generation of fans, the Red Sox have dubbed June “Calling All Kids’’ month.

Ryan Kalish answered Thursday night.

Though the 24-year-old will never pass for one of the Little Leaguers who join Sox players on the field for the national anthem, the energetic Kalish has become an integral component in Boston’s loaded - and youthful - outfield since being called up Sunday.

With the game tied in the eighth after Will Middlebrooks drilled a two-run homer, Kalish singled to right off Marlins reliever Edward Mujica. Mike Aviles got the hit-and-run signal and on the first pitch hit a grounder to first base.

Rounding second, Kalish saw Gaby Sanchez flip the ball to Mujica at the bag. On instinct, Kalish bolted for third.

“If I had hesitated, I wouldn’t have gone,’’ Kalish said. “There’s been times on the base paths this year, I’ve noticed that it’s something I haven’t done in the past. If I hesitate, sometimes I’ll keep going. Now, if I don’t feel that true aggressive feeling of no regrets, then I’m not going to try it.

“But on that play, I felt really confident about it.’’

His confidence paid off as Kalish beat the throw across the diamond. With the infield in, Kalish scored the winning run on Daniel Nava’s single to center, and the 6-5 victory gave the Sox a three-game sweep of Miami.

“A good play like that, a hustle play, gets the fans excited, the momentum going,’’ Nava said. “Just little things like that. But in the scheme of what we were doing that inning, any momentum we can get going towards us, in our direction, was big.’’

In just three games since being promoted, Kalish, drafted in the ninth round in 2006, has brought a new level of intensity to Fenway’s center-field triangle.

Even after undergoing neck surgery last September and another operation on his right shoulder in November, the injuries stemming from a diving catch made in Triple A, Kalish has not curbed his aggressive ways. In his season debut against the Cubs, Kalish scored on a suicide squeeze. On Wednesday, he rebounded from a dropped fly ball by running down a shot in front of the Monster.

On Thursday night, his base running keyed Boston’s fifth straight win.

“It shows the heads-up ability he has,’’ Aviles said of the hit-and-run. “I’m trying to hit the ball on the ground. I’m assuming he’ll be on second and when I look up, he’s going to third. Great play, smart play.’’

But with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury inching closer to returning from the disabled list, Kalish’s time at Fenway might be limited, not that the future is of any concern right now.

“Life is too short to worry about that,’’ Kalish said. “We’re playing in the big leagues right now. You never know how long that’s going to last. Being hurt, I know what it’s like for things to end. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. We’re here to help this team win, to gain respect from all the guys and the coaches we have.’’

Timely dashes and winning runs are big steps toward making that happen.

Alex Prewitt can be reached at aprewitt@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt.

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