3/27 Happy birthday, Ryan Kalish
Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein know Ryan Kalish well. The outfielder was the Red Sox’s ninth-round pick in 2006, and had a lot of potential but he was injured after colliding with an outfield wall in April 2011. He eventually needed cervical fusion surgery, which involves the removal of a disc in his neck, and the insertion of a metal plate. It’s the same surgery Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had, and Kalish had the same doctor, spinal specialist Robert Watkins, and even stayed in the same hospital room.
“He’s a solid defender, runs well, puts together a great at-bat, whether it’s against righties or lefties,” manager Rick Renteria said of Kalish. “He been down for awhile with different issues over the past couple years and he’s extremely happy to be a part of the organization and part of the club. He did a nice job this spring.”
After going through the surgery and the rehab and missing all of last season, Kalish admitted he got a little emotional when told he would be on the Opening Day roster.
“I got choked up a little bit,” Kalish said. “It’s been such a wild ride to even think I’d be starting Opening Day for the Cubs this year after being in a cervical fusion recovery room overnight is just pretty wild. This is a really awesome day for myself and everyone who has seen what I’ve gone through. My family is just ecstatic.”
He still has a lot of maintenance work to do on his body. Making the team is one step, he said.
“There’s a greater sense of something bigger going on than one day of being called up,” he said. “I want to be a part of what we want to make happen. This is one really cool day and tomorrow’s my birthday, so today is pretty cool. Tomorrow, we’re working. We have a bigger goal than one call-up on one day. I’m very fortunate and blessed.”
He’ll turn 26 on Friday.
“I’m young,” he said. “I still have a lot of years, a lot of legs left to improve my game, and do what the Cubs want me to do, be a leader, play hard, get on base, steal.”
— Carrie Muskat