FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Ryan Kalish were healthy, he could have earned ample playing time for the Red Sox this season as the fourth outfielder.
Instead, Kalish needed 30 seconds to put on his T-shirt Wednesday morning, a painful reminder of shoulder surgery he had Jan. 29 in Los Angeles.
Kalish had two anchors placed in his right shoulder to repair a labrum tear. The 24-year-old had similar surgery on his left shoulder in November of 2011, and surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck a few months before that.
Kalish felt pain in his right shoulder last season and had an MRI after the season. But surgery was not recommended.
“Just do a normal offseason and get strong, which I did. I was feeling really good,” Kalish said. “If I didn’t have to swing, I wouldn’t have needed this surgery. I would have just lived my life. But playing baseball does that. As soon as I started swinging, I noticed it.”
It will be 4-6 months before Kalish is ready to play in a game again. If he’s lucky, he’ll be cleared for some minor league games in August. His once-promising career has been put on hold again.
Counting the minor leagues, Kalish has played in only 93 games the last two seasons. The myriad physical issues all go back to a diving catch Kalish made for Triple A Pawtucket early in the 2011 season. He injured his left shoulder on that play and hasn’t been the same since.
“Honestly, I’ve been really down,” Kalish said. “It’s just been really tough for me. I really just want to play again. At this point, I’m tired of being hurt.”
Kalish is young enough to come back, even after three major surgeries in a span of 17 months. But the injuries have him wondering whether baseball will work out.
“Sure, I’ve thought that,” he said. “It’s unrealistic not to have that thought. But I have a really good support group, my family and my girlfriend. They’re great. I can’t walk away. It’s too early in my life.
“You have a dream as a kid that baseball will work out and you can be an All-Star. I’m going to get healthy, and who knows what will happen? But it’s been a rough time.”
Clay Buchholz, who strained his right hamstring Tuesday, played catch and said he felt much better.
“It was a little sore when I woke up,” he said. “But once I came in and the trainers started getting into it, it improved a lot. They said that the inflamed area is about 50 percent smaller than it was yesterday.”
Manager John Farrell concurred.
“Good day for Clay Buchholz,” Farrell said. “He’s responded favorably to treatment. Range of motion is good, strength is good. He still has some sensation in a smaller spot, more localized than [Tuesday]. An encouraging day for him.”
Plan for Napoli
Mike Napoli will have a follow-up MRI on his hips Thursday as part of his physical. If he is cleared, he can start working out in the field. For now, he has been limited to playing catch and taking batting practice. The process could take a few days. Red Sox doctors will evaluate the test, as will the specialist Napoli is seeing. “Once it’s reviewed, then there will be a work plan laid out, not only volume, but the type of work that will follow from that point,” Farrell said . . . Jacoby Ellsbury arrived Monday but he has yet to work out on the field beyond some agility drills. According to Farrell, Ellsbury is working on the right shoulder he injured last April 13. “He’ll be on the field tomorrow,” Farrell said. “He’s come in and gotten some work done on the continued strengthening of his shoulder. That’s part of the general maintenance.” Ellsbury has not made himself available to the media, unlike all of the other players in camp.
No on Lohse; maybe on Carp
Buchholz’s injury and the sore shoulder slowing down Felix Doubront have not prompted the Sox to consider signing free agent Kyle Lohse, who was 16-3 with a 2.86 earned run average for the Cardinals last season. The Red Sox would forfeit their second-round pick to sign Lohse and likely have to make a multiyear commitment. According to a major league source, the Sox have internally discussed Mike Carp, who was designated for assignment by the Mariners Tuesday. Carp is a lefthanded-hitting first baseman with 52 games of experience in left field.
The mental game
Bob Tewksbury, the team’s sports psychology coach, will have an expanded role this season, according to Farrell. There have been “mental skills classes” each day for the pitchers. Those meetings, Farrell said, are position-specific. Tewksbury, Farrell said, will be around the team more than previous seasons and take some road trips. The plan is for 85 days, Farrell said. “When we have a resource such as Tewks, to not use it, to not incorporate it more, we’re not giving the players everything that they can take advantage of,” Farrell said. Tewksbury pitched in the majors for 13 years. He then earned a master’s degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University.
Brothers in arms
Steven Wright, the knuckleball pitcher obtained from Cleveland last summer, has yet to meet Tim Wakefield but did exchange text messages with him. Wakefield is expected in camp within the next week or two and plans to work with Wright . . . Farrell was asked about John Lackey previously looking “lumpy” and how he has lost weight. Lackey has lost 17 pounds, although it looks like more. “He smoothed the lumps out,” Farrell said . . . Pedro Ciriaco, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, and Mauro Gomez all checked in. That’s 58 of the 59 players, with Shane Victorino on the way. The position players have their physicals Thursday, and the first full-squad workout is Friday.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.