The trade of Josh Reddick to Oakland opened up significant playing time in right field for the Red Sox. One logical solution would be Ryan Kalish, the athletic 23-year-old who performed well in 2010 before being sidelined for nearly all of the 2011 season with injuries.
But in an interview with the Globe this afternoon, Kalish revealed that in addition to the surgery he had on his neck in September, he also had surgery on his left shoulder on Nov. 8 to repair a torn labrum.
That surgery, done by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles, requires a lengthy rehabilitation process and Kalish does not expect to be 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."
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 hand and is an outfielder.
An approximate timetable for Kalish to return is sometime May or June.
"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 last season trying to make a diving catch for Class AAA Pawtucket.
The injury limited Kalish to 24 games last season. He returned to the Pawsox 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 disc, was alleviated in September when Dr. Joseph Maroon performed surgery in Pittsburgh. Maroon is the team neurosurgeon of the Steelers. Kalish did his rehab with a specialist in San Francisco.
"That's fine now," he said. "It's not really part of my life beyond having to do some maintenance work. But my shoulder wasn't 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 back in New Jersey for the holidays but will soon return to Fort Myers to continue his rehab.
Kalish said the trade was bittersweet. He and Reddick are close friends who 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."
Kalish's surgery certainly explains by the Red Sox picked up Ryan Sweeney in the trade. The other right field options are Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles. The 40-man roster also includes Che-Hsuan Lin.
Juan Carlos Linares, who performed well in spring training in 2011, is another possibility. But he played in only 17 games for Pawtucket last season before undergoing ankle surgery. He returned to play four games in the Arizona Fall League.
If healthy, Kalish would be a leading candidate for the job. But his turn will not come until he gets healthy.
"I'm anxious to do my part and get back on the field," Kalish said. "I'll be ready as soon as I can be. I'm working hard to get there."