Kalish returns as Sweeney heads to DL

Kalish returns as Sweeney heads to DL

CHICAGO -- It was a little after midnight in Buffalo on Sunday morning, and outfielder Ryan Kalish was doing some online shopping in his hotel room. Then, his phone rang.

The news from Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler was just what Kalish wanted to hear. He was headed back to the Major Leagues.

By Sunday afternoon, Kalish was at Wrigley Field, getting ready to start in center field for the Red Sox in a prime-time ESPN contest against the Cubs.

It was quite a way for Kalish, who went 1-for-4 and drove in the go-ahead run in a 7-4 victory, to return after spending much of the last 13 months recovering from injuries.

"One game at Wrigley and then back to Fenway," Kalish said. "Not a bad two parks to play in. I'm excited to be back. I'm excited to help this team win ballgames."

Ryan Sweeney was placed on the 15-day disabled list with continued soreness in the sesamoid bone in his left foot, necessitating the re-entry of Kalish.

With a logjam in Boston's outfield, Kalish started the 2011 season at Pawtucket. Then, in late April 2011, he had a fierce collision while making a diving catch that separated his left (throwing) shoulder.

Kalish ran into several complications upon his return, and underwent surgeries on his shoulder and neck that left him in rehab mode throughout Spring Training.

In recent weeks, Kalish finally got back to being able to play. Kalish played three games at Class A Salem and three more for Double-A Portland before moving on to Pawtucket.

In nine games at Pawtucket, Kalish dazzled, hitting .378 with four homers and 10 RBIs with a 1.234 OPS.

Kalish played 53 games for the Red Sox in 2010, hitting .252 with four homers and 24 RBIs.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is looking forward to getting a close look at Kalish.

"I'm really excited about it," Valentine said. "He seems like a pleasure to have around. The reports on him are real good. Hopefully, he can help us win a ballgame today."

While Kalish loves being back on the field instead of confined to the trainers' room, he continues to work hard to get his body healthy again.

"I'm still trying to get back to it. Two surgeries, I figured that standard guideline they throw out there is six months for a shoulder, and the neck was a quick thing, and you always feel like, all right, after those months, it's over," said Kalish. "It's not over. Basically, it's just getting started. There's a lot of maintenance work that's going into all of this that I'm going to have to put in every day. I'm fine with that. But it's a learning process, just like anything else."

The 24-year-old Kalish has always played the game with reckless abandon. He acknowledges that he might have to become a little better at picking his spots.

"Obviously, sliding headfirst right now is probably not something I'm going to do," Kalish said. "Feet-first is just as effective. I'm not worried about that. I haven't dove for a ball yet in the outfield, but if the time comes, I'm going to give it a shot. I think I'm going to be fine. I'm confident in how I'm feeling. I think everything is sturdier than I would think or anyone else would think. If the time calls, I've got to lay out for my team."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.