Kalish progressing in rehab

Kalish progressing in rehab
June 7, 2013, 8:15 pm
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BOSTON -- If things had gone differently, Ryan Kalish might have been a starting outfielder for the Red Sox this season. After making his big league debut in 2010, Kalish, a ninth-round pick in the 2006 draft out of Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey, has appeared in 89 games, batting .243 with four home runs, 29 RBI, and a .351 OPS playing all three outfield positions.
Instead, though, he is in Fort Myers, working out at the team’s spring training complex as he tries to make his way back from injuries that have derailed his career over the last three seasons. After being named the Red Sox rookie of the year in 2010, Kalish appeared in just 24 games, all in the minors, the following season, undergoing neck surgery that September followed by a November procedure on his left (throwing) shoulder.
He began the 2012 season on the disabled list, but appeared in 36 games over three stints with the major league team last year. He was shut down in September, a move intended to let him begin his offseason early, with the hope that he would be fully healthy for spring training.
But he experienced discomfort during his offseason workouts and in January underwent surgery on his right shoulder.
Kalish, though, recently reached another milestone in his journey back. He has begun swinging a bat, the last of the baseball activities he could attempt. For now, he’s swinging at a ball on a tee, but will soon progress from that.
“Feeling pretty good,” Kalish said by phone Friday afternoon. “Taking swings right now off the tee, which is good. I should start some flip toss on Sunday or Monday, and the shoulder feels great.
“I think it was the right decision to have the surgery as far as how I’m feeling now. I feel pretty pain-free. It’s a little sore but that’s what you’d expect after surgery. But as far as sharp pain is concerned, I feel pretty confident that it’s not coming back. I’m taking swings. Whether it’s a two-hand finish or a one-hand finish, I don’t really think about it, I just do it.”
That feeling -- that he made the right decision in having the surgery -- in itself provides a measure of comfort.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I’m excited about it. Obviously you’re never excited about missing time. But when you know that you weren’t going to be able to perform at the level you wanted to, the way I felt, I’m happy with the decision I made. And I’m feeling a different shoulder than I used to feel. So I’m excited. I’m excited to get healthy, whenever that is.”
He is on schedule and has had not setbacks in his current rehab.
“It’s been really smooth,” he said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning of the swinging process, but actually the swinging itself kind of loosened things up. I haven’t had to take any steps back yet. My throwing shoulder feels really good, which is nice, because last year even when I was playing, that was kind of barking consistently. And now it feels good.”
One of the silver linings to all of this has been the extra time it’s allowed his throwing shoulder to recover.
“For sure,” he said. “I’ve heard from multiple people that a throwing shoulder surgery, whether it’s a pitcher or an outfielder or whatever, you’ll be about a year or so before anything feels totally back to normal. That’s about how it was for me. I felt fine this offseason. I was throwing before I ended up having to have surgery. And I could already tell that that offseason time helped. And everything I do for my right shoulder I’ve been doing for my left, so things are equal on both sides.”
He’s looking forward to eventually getting back into games.
“I’ve heard anywhere from beginning to mid-July I hope to be playing and maybe a possible rehab somewhere,” he said. “Just start playing. Where it is, at this point I could care less.
“I just want to see how I feel. Before the rehab assignment I’m sure I’ll start playing games down here in the Gulf Coast League. I just want to play. I just want to feel good when I play. And that’s the next step, and hopefully that will go well. I anticipate it going well and I anticipate feeling good. I’ve had it in the past where I haven’t been feeling so positive. But I have a good feeling. I think this is it. I’m sure people are ready for that and so am I.
“My main goal is to play and feel good and be consistent and be able to play on an everyday basis. What happens after that, honestly, I think a lot of people want to see, and myself I want to see if I can play this game again without going down and missing more time. Obviously it’d be awesome to help out the big league team at any point. But that’s just kind of, at this point, this year I think that’d be icing on the cake. Because I think the thing I need to do is prove to everyone and myself that I can just go out and play every day and just be a guy again.”
He’s looking forward to the day when the questions he faces from reporters have only to do with his performance in the game, and nothing to do with how he’s feeling.
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” he said. “Ask questions about what I did that night, what good play I made or what bad play I made, I don’t really care.”
He’s tried to avoid thoughts of ‘why me?’
“I’m blessed to have made it up to the big leagues at such a young age,” he said. “There’s tons of guys careers that have taken sidetracks for injuries. It’s just the cards that were handed to me and it’s my job to do what I can do with it. Over the consistent scale, I’m good. It just is what it is.
“But no matter what, it’s never easy. Getting up early and you just want to be able to play, and checking up on scores and seeing how guys are dong. It’s natural to feel a little jealous, but if I wasn’t feeling that way, it would be a bad thing, I think.”
It hasn’t been easy being in Florida this length of time, away from where he wants to be. But, he’s making the best of it.  And discovering new interests and hidden talents.
Find the silver lining. It was good advice he took to heart.
“I’ve been talking to a couple of people, Gabe Kapler in particular gave me some good advice about the way you need to develop yourself in other areas when you have time like this,” Kalish said. “So I took that to heart. He’s always kind of had my back and been a good guy for me to talk to. So I took his advice and did well with it.
“I’ve been into a little bit of painting. I’ve been into the saxophone. But don’t expect me to play for you. I haven’t really taken it all that seriously. So I’ve been doing stuff that I normally don’t get into, which is fun. Obviously I’d rather be playing. But watching TV, I’ve never been into TV shows, and I’ve kind of been hooked on a  few between ‘Dexter’ and ‘Homeland.’ They’re very interesting shows.”
He played saxophone when he was a kid.
“I like that and the violin,” he said. “I think I would have enjoyed the violin more but the violin kind of puts your shoulders in a  weird position.  The last thing I need to do is put myself in a position where I got hurt playing the violin.”
And painting allows him to focus on something other than his rehab.
“Yeah, I just kind of bought some canvases and paint and just kind of taking some fun things,” he said. “It’s something good. It takes up a lot of time. You have to really concentrate, and the next think you know a couple of hours have passed buy. And it turns out I’m not half bad at it and it’s fun.”
Still, Kalish is looking forward to the days when baseball leaves him little time for other pursuits.