Prospect Kalish enjoys memorable debut

Prospect Kalish enjoys memorable debut

BOSTON -- The biggest acquisition the Red Sox made on Saturday's non-waiver Trade Deadline was courtesy of the farm system. Outfielder Ryan Kalish, touted for a while as one of the most intriguing prospects in the organization, was summoned to Fenway Park and arrived less than an hour before the game.

Originally, Jeremy Hermida was supposed to play left field on Saturday and hit eighth. Instead, the slumping veteran was designated for assignment with the hope that Kalish could bring a burst of energy for a team trying to fight its way back into the heart of postseason contention.

The first day of Kalish's career brought good returns. Kalish lined a single to right in his first Major League at-bat in the third. In the seventh, he laced another single to right and roared all the way from first to score on Darnell McDonald's double to left.

At the time, the Sox trailed, 4-2. They wound up winning, 5-4, on David Ortiz's walk-off three-run double to left-center in the bottom of the ninth.

"I've never felt this much energy in a stadium," said Kalish. "This is Fenway Park. It's been around forever. A three-run walk-off double is one of those things where when you watch on TV, you're watching all the guys freaking out. I was one of those guys freaking out today, and it was a lot of fun."

The Red Sox have lacked production in left field all season, and Kalish -- a ninth-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft -- will get a chance to help remedy that.

"I think Ryan understands that when you come up, it can be for a day, it can be for a month, it can be for the rest of your career," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "It depends on how things evolve. We're not looking at him as a savior. He's here because of the things he brings to the table, his overall game, his advanced approach at the plate, the energy and intensity that he plays with. He's a good baseball player."

Kalish hit.293 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 41 games at Pawtucket. He missed time earlier in the season with a hip flexor injury.

He was thrilled -- and surprised -- to get the call on Saturday.

"We had taken a flight from Toledo, and we got in, we had an early wakeup, and they said, 'Hey, you've got to go up [to Boston], there's something going on. Those are one of those days where it's the big leagues, you've got to be excited to help everybody win," said Kalish. "If you can't get up for that, I wonder what you're doing."

In recent years, Red Sox manager Terry Francona has had a chance to witness the debuts of homegrown products like Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury. This marked another new chapter for a young player the Sox are high on.

"Pretty exciting day again for the organization," Francona said. "What a kid. It is a pretty big compliment to him that we think he can come up right smack in the middle of our season and give us a boost."

And Red Sox fans are sure to like the comparison Francona made after Kalish's first game in the Majors.

"It is almost like Trot Nixon came," Francona said. "He looks like him, plays like him. He is going to be fun to watch grow into a really good player."

Ellsbury, who has played just nine games this season because of fractured left ribs, should return at some point next week. It remains to be seen how that will impact Kalish's role with the team. Mike Cameron has been dealing with a sore lower abdomen all season and his availability depends on how he feels each day.

For now, Kalish won't worry about any of that. He is just looking forward to thriving on the opportunity.

"You're out there just playing the game," Kalish said. "You're playing for the Boston Red Sox, [who have] has such a great reputation. Once you're out there playing the game, it's all good. I just knew that everyone in here is all about winning. That's something that I just want to bring here, a mental attitude of always trying to win, because that's what it's all about."