Rewind to one week ago, when Ryan Kalish was still expected to be a contributing member of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Well, if necessary, anyway -- Kalish had an option remaining, and was expected to play every day in Triple-A Pawtucket. However, if Boston needed another outfielder, one capable of playing center or right field defensively, Kalish could be called upon without interfering with the 40-man roster as is. While this was the case, the Red Sox were searching for a bat for the bench that could fill in at first and left when needed, and was left-handed in order to complement Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli. Bring it back to today, and that's no longer the case. Kalish is set to undergo shoulder surgery that will see him miss all of spring training, if not a significant chunk of 2013 recovering. The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is Alex Hassan, who is something of a designated hitter listed as an outfielder, one not quite finished his minor-league seasoning, either, so he isn't an option to replace Kalish. Ryan Sweeney, whom the Sox signed shortly after the Kalish news broke, is, but he changes the landscape of the bench by making the club. Sweeney hit just .260/.303/.373 for the Red Sox in 2012, but part of that was due to the fallout from a concussion suffered in mid-June: his performance after returning included an ugly .091/.167/.212 line in his final 33 plate appearances and 11 games. Sweeney also struggled in his brief stint as the team's leadoff hitter, which, while normally not worth mentioning, might actually qualify here, as Sweeney warned everyone who would listen (and some who did not, such as manager Bobby Valentine) that he just wasn't comfortable in the role. After posting a 398 OPS as the first in the order, Valentine relented and pulled the plug on that experiment. While the overall splits are small, the fact Sweeney has hit .236/.285/.293 as a leadoff hitter in 263 plate appearances, while expressing a dislike and discomfort in the role, is probably a safe indicator that it's not worth fighting that particular battle with his usage.
Can The Red Sox Fit Another Left-Handed Bench Bat?
Over The Monster | Jan 29