After handing young but experienced outfielder Ryan Kalish a minor league contract this offseason, no Cubs fan thought much of it. Kalish has had serious injury issues in the past and his career has continued on a downward trend these past few years. However, the Cubs took a chance on Kalish`s natural ability and athleticism and invited him to camp to see what was left.
Kalish, 25, was a solid prospect in the Boston Red Sox’s system and had been projected to be a solid future major leaguer before he suffered injuries in 2011.
On April 21, 2011, he suffered a torn labrm in his left shoulder and a neck injury when he slammed into an outfield wall. Kalish remained on the disabled list until August, when he was reinstated on Triple-A Pawtucket where he played eight games before experiencing neck troubles and was shut down for the remainder of the season.
Kalish visited with Dr. Watkins, who recommended he have the cervical fusion surgery. At the time, he also had another opinion from Dr. Joseph Maroon, who suggested he have a different procedure to repair a bulging disc in his neck. Kalish went with the latter. The young man also had to have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in January 2012, just after having surgery to repair his left shoulder the year before.
Kalish continued to deal with injury issues throughout the rest of his tenure in Boston, leading to a change of scenery in Chicago this offseason.
The Cubs may have the old Kalish back, as he is tearing it up this spring while fully healthy, posting a very encouraging .320/.433/.360 line in 25 at-bats.
When you`re a regular like Anthony Rizzo or Welington Castillo one does not need to worry about the spring stats. In Kalish`s case, his ability might finally shining through the dark clouds of injury, and Peter Gammons has noticed:
To see Ryan Kalish swinging, running this way is one of the best sights of spring
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 10, 2014
While it isn`t much, you can see the baseball world is noticing the way Kalish is going about his business this spring. A Ryan Kalish from the old days before all the injuries would be a great asset for the Cubs to have. Apparently, Theo and Jed have noticed too.
With the “emergence” of Kalish, it is been reported that the team is more comfortable moving Nate Schierholtz to a team like Detroit, since they have a possible safety net in Ryan Kalish. I`ll be honest, i couldn`t care less when Kalish was brought into camp. I just assumed he was another “Theo guy” from the Boston days that has no chance of making the team out of camp.
However, Kalish is proving himself to fans like me and to the Cubs. He`s shown his great athleticism and natural ability to play baseball, and at the very least, he could be a valuable bench piece for 2014.