Kalish eager to develop down at Pawtucket

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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

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."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.