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Kalish won’t be ready to start

Outfielder had shoulder surgery

RYAN KALISH Could miss a month or two RYAN KALISH Could miss a month or two
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 30, 2011
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The Red Sox need a right fielder. J.D. Drew is a free agent and will not be returning after five years in Boston. Josh Reddick, who held the job while Drew was on the disabled list last season, was traded to Oakland Wednesday.

Ryan Kalish was supposed to be the solution. An athletic 23-year-old who has climbed steadily through the minor leagues, Kalish was in line to replace Drew and add some vitality to the lineup.

But injuries have delayed a promising career, the latest setback being shoulder surgery in November that could keep Kalish out for a month or two in the upcoming season.

“You see the opportunity and you wish it could be different,’’ Kalish said yesterday. “It’s frustrating, but I need to get healthy.’’

Kalish revealed that in addition to the surgery he had on his neck in September, he had surgery on his left shoulder Nov. 8 to repair a torn labrum. The Red Sox had kept that quiet.

That surgery, done by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles, requires a lengthy rehabilitation, and Kalish will not be fully ready for spring training or the start the season.

“It’s not the easiest rehab in the world, and we’re only a few weeks into it,’’ Kalish said. “I’m working to get my range of motion back and we’ll go from there. Nobody has told me a timetable, but I know it will be a while.’’

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez had labrum surgery on Oct. 20, 2010, and did not appear in a spring training game until March 12. Gonzalez had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, however. For Kalish, the rehab will take longer because he throws with his left arm and is an outfielder.

There is a chance Kalish will be able to DH or pinch hit in spring training. But getting his arm healthy enough to play the outfield will take additional time.

“I’m not a pitcher or it would take longer,’’ Kalish said. “I was told that in terms of shoulder injuries, I had the best-case scenario. But it will still take some time.’’

Kalish first injured his shoulder playing high school football. But he suffered a significant injury on April 21 of last season with Pawtucket trying to make a diving catch.

The injury limited Kalish to 24 games last season. He returned to Pawtucket in August but lasted only eight games before being shut down because of neck pain that developed as a result of the shoulder injury.

The neck issue, a bulging disk, was alleviated in September when Dr. Joseph Maroon performed surgery in Pittsburgh. Maroon is the team neurosurgeon of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kalish did his rehab with a specialist in San Francisco.

“That’s fine now,’’ Kalish said. “It’s not really part of my life beyond having to do some maintenance work. But my shoulder wasn’t getting better, and that’s when everybody sat down and decided I should get surgery.

“I had to get it done. I could have tried to play and probably could have. But eventually I was going to need it. I just wanted to get everything fixed and get back to being myself.’’

Kalish is in New Jersey for the holidays but will soon return to Fort Myers, Fla., to continue his rehab.

“That’s really all I can do at this point is work on being healthy,’’ he said.

For Kalish, the Reddick trade was bittersweet. They are close friends and came up together in the organization.

“I’m happy for Josh because he’ll get a chance to start, probably,’’ Kalish said. “For me, there is an opportunity, too. I just need to get healthy and get back to playing. My goal is to help the major league team at some point next season. I just don’t know when that will be.’’

The uncertainty with Kalish was part of the reason the Red Sox obtained backup outfielder Ryan Sweeney in the deal with Oakland. Sweeney has been primarily a right fielder in his career.

The other right field options are Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles, an infielder who was sent to play winter ball in Puerto Rico to become more accustomed to the outfield. The 40-man roster also includes outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin.

Juan Carlos Linares, who performed well in spring training last season, is another possibility. But he played only 17 games for Pawtucket before undergoing ankle surgery. He returned to play four games in the Arizona Fall League.

There are low-cost free agent options available. A righthanded hitter such as Ryan Ludwick or Ryan Spilborghs could platoon with Sweeney.

Meanwhile, Kalish will wait for his chance. If all goes well, he could be an important member of the roster in the second half of the season.

“I’m anxious to do my part and get back on the field,’’ he said. “Health has been an uphill battle for me this year. I just want to get back to what I was.’’

Manager Bobby Valentine, appearing on MLB Network Radio, said he would be in Texas this weekend and planned to meet with Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Carl Crawford.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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