Celtics

Kalish slowly working his way back

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Kalish slowly working his way back

FORT MYERS, Fla. After the major league players who didnt go on Sundays trip to Dunedin to face the Blue Jays finished taking batting practice on the Jet Blue Park field, Ryan Kalish stepped in. Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler fed the pitching machine while hitting coach Gerald Perry looked on.

But Kalish wasnt taking swings like the other hitters had done before him. He was working on bunting. Its one of the things he can do for now, while he recovers from off-season surgeries on his neck, in September, and left, throwing, shoulder, in November.

Hed like to swing away, though, for what it would signify.

Oh, of course, sure, Kalish said. But this is just something I can do right now and occupy my mind and get better at something in my game.

Kalish has been swinging, but it has been at a ball on a tee.

Weve only swung about four times, so far, he said. But were getting there. Its just a slow process but its necessary to be that way. Patience is the best thing right now.

Actually Im not really holding back when swinging. Just free. Swinging is starting to feel better. My swing is definitely coming along a little bit. Obviously, its been seven months. At this point its just getting the feel, seeing how it feels and thats it. So were getting there.

Kalish, who turns 24 on Wednesday, made his big league debut but was limited to just 24 minor league games last season, without a big league appearance, limited by injuries. It was hoped he would be in the Sox outfield mix this season, but is not expected to be ready before June.

Kalish, though, is not focusing on dates or deadlines.

Its not up to me, and I dont really ask, he said. I just do what they say day by day because thats just the way I feel, like its better to look at one day at a time rather than knowing what you have going one ahead. Im sure if I wanted to know I could. But id rather go day by day and take it step by step rather than what Ive been doing, looking ahead. it doesnt work too well.

Kalish is satisfied with the progress of his rehab. But hes also looking forward to its end.

Things are getting better for sure. Thats a definite. So Im happy, he said.

I just want to play. its been too long. its been so long. Thats where Im at mentally. I just want to play.

Every once in a while he notices a twinge in his neck and shoulder. Thats to be expected. But compared to last season, its much better.

Its great, he said. Every days a new day and sometimes I feel it. But thats just to be expected at this point. Sometimes you have a little kink here or a little kink there. But its just part of the daily routine. its a grind, but were getting there.

I run around, catch, throw. Im throwing on a program. Im doing everything. Its just a matter of time before we build up.

His throwing program is slow, he said. Hes throwing from about 60 feet now.

Its good, though, he said. And every day I throw it feels a little bit better, a little bit stronger. So, starting to get my arm back which is nice to know that I think eventually Ill have my full strength back.

Kalish, who had a very strong outfield arm before the injury, is confident that will return when hes back to full health. But, if it doesnt . . .

Ill deal with it, he said. Its just part of life. Thats it. So if it happens, it happens. But I think over time -- I dont know what my arm will be like this year. Ive heard from people that have had this its not always that year. Youll probably have the year after when you feel really good. So well see. Just take it step by step. I just want to play.

One of the people hes talked to about his situation is Jason Varitek.

He told me that last season, just as far as things go, and maybe people that hes known, Kalish said. We were together and we were talking about. And he goes, Hey, you might feel like this. But he was just giving me some friendly words of advice.

Sox minor leaguer Ryan Westmoreland has had it. Hes told me, My arm hurt for a year. But obviously I think his surgery was a little bit more complex than mine. So Im just going to keep working through it and if it hurts, it hurts.

Its just working out scar tissue. But its one of those things. Like I threw earlier today and felt it during it a little. But its just scar tissue and now I cant tell at all that I even threw. So its fine.

Kalish has been here since the beginning of the year. He hasnt received his release from Fort Myers yet. When camp breaks in a little over a week, hell stay behind, continuing his rehab process. He knows its just a matter of time before he heads north.

Thatll come, he said. l hope itll be sooner rather than later.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

BOSTON – When Kyrie Irving asked Cleveland to trade him this summer, he did so in part to be more of a navigator when it comes to charting out the rest of his basketball career.

But he knows for him to achieve the kind of individual and team success that he wants, he can’t do it alone.

And that maybe more than anything else, is why Irving has struggled in these first two games as far as shooting the ball.

In Boston’s first two games – both losses – Irving has averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds. Those are decent numbers but pale in comparison to what the 25-year-old has been able to do most of his NBA career.

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And while the team is committed to moving on and focus on winning the next game, there’s no getting around the emotional tug they all feel towards Hayward.

“You can throw as many emotions in there as you want, man,” Irving said. “We know how much G (Gordon Hayward) meant to this team and means to this team. Without him on the floor creating those opportunities we were going over in practice, and we saw in preseason and in the first game, that’s a big void to fill. When you think of it in that aspect, of course you want to be frustrated and disappointed. I’m pretty sure that’s not what G wants. So, for us, you just have to continue to exude confidence in the young guys and be ready to step up to the plate. It’s going to be even higher expectations on our guys in this locker room now to try and fill that hole that G (Hayward) left for us. As one of the leaders on this team, it’s my job to pick us up, as well as with Brad and the team with all the guys. We have to look each other in the eyes and know what to expect every single night.”

That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you consider how quickly things changed for the Celtics at least in the short term with Hayward’s energy.

“I just … as you can see its’ not an ideal situation,” Irving said. “So, as cliché as it is, everybody is probably going to say that’s life. But it is, man. [expletive] happens. Excuse my language. But it does, man. The individual that we have in Gordon, he’s very special. He’s going to fight like hell to get back on the floor. I know he’s already … there’s a fire burning inside of him. You see the amount of support he got. That should tell you the type of person he is. Not only to the Boston Celtics but to the rest of the league. We want him to get back healthy but we all understand that his health comes first. He’s going to do everything possible to get back on the floor and it’s our job to lift him up.”

Irving was asked whether the team would need to go back to Square One due to Hayward’s injury which will keep him out indefinite at this point.

“No. We don’t have time for square one,” Irving said. “I can tell you that right now. We don’t have time to go back to square one. It’s time to just figure it out, moment to moment, and we’ll be alright. I’ve had the unique opportunity to be in some situations that test your character and this is one of those times.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE