Kalish: 'It's been a tough year'

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Kalish: 'It's been a tough year'

SEATTLE -- After undergoing two separate surgical procedures last off-season -- one on his neck last September; a second on his left shoulder last November -- Ryan Kalish thought he was through with the tedious rehabilitation process.
As it turns out, there's more work to come. But Kalish knows it's the only way he can return to 100 percent health and re-start his career.
Following the two surgeries, Kalish essentially missed most of spring training and didn't play in a game until May. He was called up to the big leagues in June, but since then, his 2012 has been a back-and-forth exercise between the minors and majors and between feeling well and feeling injured again.
Even now, a full year removed from the first surgery, Kalish's availability is day-to-day.
"Every day's a little different,'' said Valentine. "A lot of times, it's after he (takes batting practice) that we know (whether he can play that day). It's a real fine line. When he feels great, I don't mind playing him. When he feels less than great, I feel guilty playing him.''
Kalish is dedicated to finding the proper rehab program this off-season to get healthy, once and for all.
"This is my chance to get back to the old me -- the strong, athletic guy that just comes into camp ready,'' said Kalish. "I feel weak right now. My body is tired. These two things intertwined. I need a break.''
For now, Kalish goes about trying to get ready every day. It has not, he admits, been easy.
"It's just tough to keep (the left shoulder) strong,'' he said. "Then, in the midst of all that, I've had a little bit of neck pain; my right shoulder overcompensates and now that's tired. We're going to continue to grind (for the final month) as much as I can help out there.
"But I'm really, really excited to get down to a little bit of rest and recovery and a strong workout plan.''
The hard part is acknowledging that he has essentially lost two years of development time. At this point, the Red Sox expected he would be part of their everyday outfield alignment; instead, Kalish waits to see if he's physically up to playing.
"It's been a tough year,'' he said. "I kind of feel like it's been two years (that he's missed). But I'm confident in my abilities. If I'm healthy, I don't think much can stop me. But that remains to be seen.''
And will only be seen after another off-season of rest, and yes, more rehab.

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."