Kalish, McDonald ready for anything

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Kalish, McDonald ready for anything

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

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."

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.