By Phil Perry
Last season, as injuries derailed their season, the Red Sox found out there were only so many things they could control.
Darnell McDonald and Ryan Kalish, who were given opportunities with the Red Sox last season because of the team's rash of outfield injuries, have adopted a similar approach as they enter the 2011 season without guaranteed spots on Boston's big-league roster.
"I've been playing so long, the biggest thing I've learned is just worry about the things you can control," said McDonald from the 72nd annual Boston Baseball Writers Awards dinner. "I've prepared for every offseason the same way. I'm looking to come into spring training ready to go and compete for a job."
McDonald, 32, has bounced around professional baseball since 2004, spending time in the Orioles, Twins and Reds systems before finding a home with the Red Sox last season. He hit .270 with 9 home runs and 34 RBI in 117 games. He also played effectively in the outfield with outfielders Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury missing most of the season injured.
Manager Terry Francona seemed optimistic that McDonald would be with the major-league club again.
"McDonald is a guy that came up in the middle of last season and really gave us an added boost," Francona said. "He's a right-handed bat along with Cameron. He gives us that fourth- or fifth-outfielder type that could really help us win games."
Kalish, 22, could be the odd man out when it comes time to determine the Red Sox' major league roster out of spring training.
In 53 games with the Red Sox last season, Kalish showed flashes of ability that had many projecting him to be an everyday outfielder in the future.
He hit .252 with 4 home runs, 24 RBI and 10 steals as a major leaguer in 2010, but he could be starting the 2011 season in the minor leagues with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
"To not hinder his development, we told him this last year, he may need more time in Triple A," Francona said. "That's not the worst thing for his development. If somebody gets hurt or something happens, we've already shown that we're comfortable with him playing here."
Kalish seemed comfortable with the idea of starting the season in the minors.
"In reality there's a lot to learn in this game," he said. "There's a lot to do and that's what I'm ready to do. I don't have any expectations. I'm just gonna go and have fun and play and learn."