Ryan Kalish remembers exactly where he was when he learned that the Red Sox had signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142 million contract.
“I was in Arizona,” Kalish told me. “I was actually playing the videogame ‘FIFA 2011’ and I started getting text messages on my phone letting me know that it had happened.”
Did those messages come from friends or from the Red Sox front office?
“The texts were from friends – the Red Sox don’t need to text me,” Ryan said. “They understand that I get it. If it was me, I would have gotten Crawford too. I’ve been watching him for years and he’s someone that I want to be like. A guy that has speed, power, hits for average, and plays the game hard. That’s what I strive for.”
Kalish knew immediately that the acquisition of Crawford probably meant that he would begin this season in Pawtucket – despite being named the Boston Red Sox Rookie of the Year last season.
“Just looking at the scenario, it was pretty easy for me to figure out that I was probably going to come here,” Kalish said. “This game is too fun to be mad about something like that. I’ve spent a lot of time with Darnell McDonald, and just knowing his story – for me to be upset would be ridiculous.”
McDonald spent nearly 12 full seasons in the minors before sticking with the Red Sox last year. The 23-year-old Kalish isn’t likely to require that much minor league seasoning, but Ryan says he’s still has plenty to learn.
“Baseball is a game of failure and I get frustrated pretty easily,” Kalish said. “I keep it hidden so nobody can really tell, but you have to play this game day-in and day-out and keep an even keel. Sometimes you’ll feel really good and feel like you can get a hit every time up and then the baseball gods will let you know that you can’t. The best players don’t get too high and don’t get too down and that’s something that is very impressive to watch.”
One benefit of returning to Pawtucket is that it reunited Kalish with his pal Lars Anderson. They’ve been teammates in each of the last two seasons, and they spent time together this past off-season traveling to Puerto Rico.
“Me and Lars saw the whole country – that’s for sure,” Ryan said. “We were in the capital for two days and decided that there’s too much to see, so we rented a car and drove all over. We started on the coast and then drove through the mountains and we saw everything. For us, that’s what a vacation is – it’s not just going and sitting on a beach and having some drinks. It’s getting out and seeing different things. That was a lot of fun – we had 10 days of wild adventures.”
Last year, Kalish sported a tattoo on his calf that served as a reminder of a previous vacation to Costa Rica. Now he’s added some ink to represent the Puerto Rico trip.
“The Puerto Rico tattoo is of something called a bioluminescent bay where you swim at night and wherever you touch glows green,” Kalish said. “It’s an amazing thing – you go out there at 10 o’clock and night and it’s a magical experience to say the least. It’s something that you can only find in certain places throughout the world and that’s what stuck with me the most so I have an image of that on my leg.
“Every off-season I want to try to go somewhere, and I’d like to get a tattoo to represent that. It’s pretty much the image that sticks with me. I have no idea what it’s going to be before I go – it’s something that I think about when I get home and there’s usually always something that sticks out.”
Between the trip to Puerto Rico and the time he spent working out at API (Athletes’ Performance, Inc) in Arizona, there was one thing that Kalish didn’t get around to in the off-season – learning how to play the violin that he purchased last season (you can read the full story here).
“The violin is something to be done inside and I was spending so much time outside in nature that I didn’t have time,” Kalish said with a laugh. “But now that you bring it up, I really wish I had done something with it. Maybe one day when I feel like it, it will come out of the case, but right now I’ve got a lot of stuff that I want to do.”
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I’m thinking that Mike Buczkowski, the longtime General Manager of the Buffalo Bisons, is not a big Josh Reddick fan.
Last year, Reddick batted .327 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI in 12 games against the Bisons, and on Saturday, Josh homered in his first game against Buffalo in 2011.
But the Buffalo G.M. has a more personal reason for being annoyed by Reddick – on the pitch immediately before hitting his home run, Josh drilled a long foul ball that cleared the right field fence and shattered the windshield of Buczkowski’s car.
The two had a peace summit on Sunday as they shared a laugh about it near the indoor batting cage.
Reddick, by the way, has a track record of foul ball destruction. In 2009 he lined one back into the press box at Fenway Park that destroyed the laptop of ESPN Boston columnist Joe McDonald.
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The PawSox have split the first two games of a 4-game series in Buffalo, winning the opener 8-3 on Saturday as Tony Thomas belted a grand slam and finished with 5 RBI. The Bisons answered with a 2-1 win on Sunday as five Buffalo pitchers combined on a 4-hitter.
The series continues on Monday night at 6:05 as RHP Brandon Duckworth makes his PawSox debut. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pregame show at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network, pawsox.com, and 920WHJJ.com.
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