Kalish eager to develop down at Pawtucket

191542.jpg

Kalish eager to develop down at Pawtucket

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PAWTUCKET, RI After appearing in 53 big-league games last season, hitting .252 with four home runs, including two grand slams, and 24 RBI, perhaps starting this season in Triple-A would be a disappointment.

Not so, says Ryan Kalish.

No, not at all, said Kalish, who turned 23 on March 28. I knew in the offseason as soon as they signed Carl Crawford that was the way it was going to be. And I think its good because theres no pressure. You know youre going to go to Triple-A and keep working on my game. I think, obviously, if I was the Red Sox, Id have signed Carl, too, because hes just such a good player and brings a lot to your team. So, no, there was no disappointment at all. Just come in here, get my work in and if they need me up there, thats my goal, is to be ready to help them win.

Kalish appeared in 20 Grapefruit League games for the Red Sox this spring, playing all three outfield positions and serving as the designated hitter. Hitting .235 with just two extra-base hits, both doubles, and one RBI, he wasnt entirely happy with his spring performance. But, he also knows that will not determine his future.

Spring training was great, he said. Just a lot of excitement. Crawford coming in and all the outfielders, just such a help and always teaching me stuff and helping me learn. That was great. I dont think I played as well as I wanted to, but thats spring training. But now the games are here and were here to win and I think that really helps everybody out. So, yeah, spring training was great.

Getting called to the big leagues on July 31, Kalish quickly showed that he was not intimidated by his surroundings, starting in left field and going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in his debut that day. Those last few months in the big leagues can only help him.

It was definitely huge because when I get back, hopefully if I get back, it shouldnt be as big of an adjustment, he said. Youre going to already know a lot of the guys. They already are there to help me out, and Ill just continue to grow.

First-year Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler has watched Kalishs maturation. He also managed Kalish in Portland over parts of the last two seasons.

Hes a hard-working kid, Beyeler said. He plays the game right. Hes come a long way, maturity-wise. He used to let the game come to him, but now he gets after it every day. Hes consistent. Doesnt let things bother him like they used to. I think that shows in his consistency, especially when he went up to the big leagues and got the opportunity last year. Everybody in the clubhouse loved him up there last year because hes consistent every day. All he cares about is winning. He just wants to help the team and hes been that way throughout the minor leagues the last few years.

Beyeler has seen the difference those 53 big-league games have had on Kalish.

I think not in just his game. His games his game, Beyeler said. I think more so just his emotional consistency of not letting stuff bother him, the little things that could tend to wear a lot of guys out when theyre young. It seems like when those guys go up to the big leagues and come back they understand that its not all about the numbers. You can kind of see the forest through the trees a little bit more. Theyre going to come and get guys down here that fit into roles they need, are good in the clubhouse, and care about the team wining. Its not necessarily the hottest guy at the time. So when guys kind of start to see that a little bit and worry about themselves instead of worrying about the numbers, its funny how things kind of work out for them a lot better. But it takes a long time.

But I think all of us are that way. In the grand scheme of things you just got to do what you do and things work out. Its tough with these guys on the way up to sometimes talk to them about things like that, the process over the performance. When they start seeing and really believing in the process and how things work and quit worrying about the performance, then the process usually takes care of the performance.

For Kalish, while getting back to the big leagues will always be the ultimate goal, for now its in the background.

Thats off the table, he said. Just play, play hard down here, and continue to develop. And I think keeping that winning attitude down here will help us all when we get up there. But theres no goal on that, because if you do I think it kind of throws your game off if you dont get somewhere, if you dont hit a certain average, get a certain number of home runs. At the end of the year if you play hard and work hard and play to win, I think a lot of that stuff will take care of itself.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

The Red Sox need to let their lineup sort itself out a bit, and really, need to see how one core player in particular fares: Xander Bogaerts. 
 
Until then, Red Sox manager John Farrell should try to alternate right- and left-handed hitters as much as possible against right-handed pitching
 
If Thursday’s Grapefruit League lineup indeed winds up as a preview for the regular season, Farrell’s on the right track.
 
1. Dustin Pedroia 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi LF
3. Mookie Betts RF
4. Hanley Ramirez DH
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
8. Pablo Sandoval 3B
9. Blake Swihart C
 
Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez should be at catcher normally, rather than Swihart. (If Leon shows he can in fact hit again, the Sox could also decide to put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the nine-hole.)
 
"Maybe a first look at our lineup," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "I'm not saying this is Opening Day, but this is potential for one on Opening Day. And just to get everybody back in the rhythm. We've kind of fragmented because of the WBC and because of travel and bouncing around the state. To get our camp finally together, I think we're all looking forward to these last remaining games."
 
Betts is the best all-around producer the Red Sox have. He should be in the three-hole, despite chatter than Andrew Benintendi might be a fit.
 
But Bogaerts’ success will determine a lot of the flexibility available to Farrell. (Yes, everybody has to be healthy for the above statement to be true. And remember, lineups are important, but probably not as important as we’ve all been raised to believe). 

If Bogaerts plays like he did in the first half, when he batted .329 en route to an All-Star appearance, he could easily slide into the three-hole, and push Betts into the second or fourth spot. Or even leadoff.
 
If Bogaerts is the .253 hitter he was after the All-Star break, well, the second half of the lineup is where he belongs. 
 
Bogaerts is, ultimately, better than he showed as both he and the season wore down. But let him establish himself in a groove before you start loading up the top of the lineup with right-handed hitters, thereby giving opposing managers a clear path for righty relievers.
 
(The Red Sox could pinch hit Chris Young at any time, but you’re usually not taking out one of your best players just for a platoon advantage.)
 
And from another perspective, you almost need Bogaerts in the second half of the lineup. Because what else is there?
 
Say the Sox load all four right-handed hitters at the top.
 
1. Pedroia
2. Bogaerts
3. Betts
4. Ramirez 
 
That’s awesome. Then what? Benintendi and cross your fingers? Benintendi seems as sure a thing as any sophomore — well, technically a rookie — can be. But still.
 
This is where Moreland and Sandoval represent other X-factors. All spring, there’s been talk of how Fenway Park and a use-all-fields approach will benefit Moreland. That may be so — but to what extent? How much better can he reasonably be? The Sox are internally encouraged.
 
As it stands now, however, there’s no obvious choice to protect Ramirez, considering Moreland is coming off a season where he had a .293 on-base percentage against righties.
 
And with Sandoval, whether he’s anything more than a wet napkin vs. left-handed pitching is to be seen. There’s reason to believe he can handle right-handed pitchers at least adequately, so he'll get the start — but he could be the first guy pinch hit for nightly.
 

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.