Boston Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish's determination to return to the big leagues has sustained another major setback.
Kalish, who made an auspicious big league debut in 2010 but missed all of the 2011 season and most of 2012 with neck and shoulder injuries, will require surgery on his right [non-throwing] shoulder and will miss spring training, according to a major league source. The operation is scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, the source said.
Neither Kalish nor Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington immediately responded to requests for comment.
The Red Sox quickly moved to add to their outfield depth, signing Ryan Sweeney, who was nontendered by the club after last season, to a minor league deal.
Kalish, who injured his throwing shoulder diving for a ball in Pawtucket in April 2011, had two surgeries in a two-month span later that year. The first, in September, was to repair a bulging disk in his neck. The second, in November, was to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, which required the insertion of multiple screws and sutures.
After an arduous rehabilitation, Kalish hit .378 with four home runs in nine games with Pawtucket and was recalled by the major-league Red Sox last June -- coincidentally, when Sweeney went on the disabled list with a toe injury. Kalish immediately contributed, starting in center field and delivering a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning of a victory against the Cubs.
But Kalish subsequently struggled while Sweeney was out, posting a .217/.238/.250/.488 batting line, and was optioned back to Triple-A on July 7, when Sweeney was reactivated. Kalish was recalled the first week in August but was sent back down after batting just .158 in seven games. He was returned at the end of the month but didn't have an at-bat after Sept. 11, and was shut down altogether the final week of the season.
Still, the Sox had hoped that the lefty-hitting Kalish would compete for a platoon position in 2013, splitting time in left field with new acquisition Jonny Gomes.
Kalish, who turns 25 in March, had expressed optimism that he would enjoy a return to health. He elected to remain in Boston this offseason to work out under the supervision of the Red Sox medical staff.
"I'm not thinking relatively healthy, I'm thinking fully healthy," he told ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald in November. "I honestly believe that. That's my ultimate goal, to be fully healthy and to be ready to compete. If I get strong enough and I get the proper care, which is happening, then we're going to find out realistically where everything is at."
"My sense is he did nothing recently to hurt it -- it just became a nagging issue and all of a sudden became a surgical issue," a source said Friday night.
Sweeney, who came to the Red Sox last winter with reliever Andrew Bailey in a trade with Oakland that cost them outfielder Josh Reddick, did not appear to be in the team's plans after being nontendered.
While Reddick emerged as a star in Oakland, Sweeney had a miserable season, almost from the moment he arrived. He strained a quadriceps muscle in spring training, sustained a concussion in May, fractured a bone in his big toe in June, missed a few games with a strained hamstring in July and put himself out of commission for the season's final two months when he punched a dugout door and required surgery on his finger.
He appeared in just 63 games, batting .260 with a .303 on-base percentage and a .373 slugging percentage, and did not hit a home run. But with switch-hitter Daniel Nava the only left-handed hitting roster option to platoon with Gomes, the Red Sox signed Sweeney to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp
"So excited to be back with Boston!" Sweeney tweeted. "Thanks to the Red Sox for the opportunity to play there again."
Longtime utilityman Drew Sutton, a switch-hitter who played outfield for Pittsburgh last season, is another nonroster invitee.
The news of Kalish's surgery is an ominous development for a team that last season placed 27 players on the disabled list for a total of 34 stints, which cost the club nearly 1,500 games.