PAWTUCKET – Rehabbing an injury can prove very tricky for many athletes to navigate successfully. That’s why the athletic trainer is an important source, both in terms of offering moral support and aiding the athlete’s quest to return to action as soon as the body permits.
In terms of both critical areas, Ryan Kalish knows he’s in good hands with Jon Jochim, the trainer for the Pawtucket Red Sox. On Sunday morning, Kalish emerged from the trainer’s room with his left shoulder heavily bandaged, tangible proof that another therapy session under Jochim’s care had transpired.
Resuming baseball-related activities may not be in Kalish’s immediate future – the outfielder asked shortstop Jose Iglesias for assistance in sliding on the left sleeve of his warmup jacket – yet he takes comfort during this period of uncertainty and frustration in knowing that Jochim is the right guy to get him back up to speed.
“He was my trainer in the Gulf Coast League [in 2006, the same year Boston selected Kalish in the ninth round], so we go way back,” said Kalish, sidelined since April 21 after making a head-first diving catch in center field went awry. “He’s super caring and it’s really good to be with him here.”
Kalish also found himself under Jochim’s care last June after suffering from a strained right hip flexor. That injury resulted in the hard-charging outfielder missing 15 games, but his stay on the disabled list could have easily been extended had he not followed Jochim’s advice. By taking things slowly, realizing that strength to the tender spot would be restored in due time, Kalish returned with additional speed to burn. In fact, Kalish credits the exercises Jochim prescribed in paving the way for the player to become more of a game-changer on the basepaths (22 stolen bases in 90 games between Pawtucket and Boston).
Kalish’s latest setback has resulted in the term “range of motion.” What this starting-from-scratch procedure entails is plenty of stretching, this according to PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler.
“He’s got to let (the shoulder) heal first. Basically it’s things that we take for granted as far as lifting your arm over your head and lifting your arm down below, then doing that across your body 10 times,” explained Beyeler. “You do it a little bit more each day so that when you become comfortable, you can add some weights.”
Added Kalish, “You’ve got to loosen things up. I’m trying to stay in shape, so I’m in the gym every day, working on my lower body. It’s a process, just like anything else.”
Kalish quickly corrected a reporter when asked how his shoulder has progressed in the week-plus following his setback.
“Actually it’s been ten days,” he said with a laugh. “I feel much better. I’ve gotten a lot of my strength back. There have been plenty of encouraging signs, but I’ve got to keep plugging away. Hopefully I’ll be good to go in a couple of weeks.”
Kalish mentioned that his therapy sessions with Jochim take place long before the regulars appear in the clubhouse. That’s by design so that enough time is allotted to those on the active roster. Asked if there was talk of him heading down to Florida to rehab, Kalish responded no. If sticking close to Jochim had worked before, why bother deviating?
“I have a lot of good friends here, so it’s good to be around them,” said Kalish about another benefit in remaining with the PawSox. “You’re watching a baseball game, and shoot, I can help these guys. For me, I can help someone with stealing bases if I see something. I’m just trying to stay in the game.”
A player with Red Sox ties will kick off a rehab assignment Monday night at McCoy Stadium. However, the player-in-question will not be reporting to Boston upon completing his stint in the minors. Former Sox catcher Victor Martinez will join Toledo and serve as the Mud Hens’ designated hitter over the next two days, which would set up his return to Detroit quite nicely.
Signed by the Tigers in the offseason, Martinez is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday. The switch-hitter has been sidelined since April 19 with a sore groin. For the season the 32-year-old Martinez is hitting .250 in 16 games.
The PawSox were involved in 14 transactions in April, a paltry sum considering that the club was involved in 26 transactions during the season’s first month in 2009 and 20 last season. The month’s most notable moves came when pitcher Alfredo Aceves was scratched hours before his start on Opening Night, the addition of Felix Doubront to the staff and Kalish getting hurt.
Other than that, the roster Beyeler has worked with has largely remained intact. That may explain why Pawtucket posted a better record this April (13-10) as opposed to last April (9-13).
“I think these guys know each other and are comfortable in their roles,” said Beyeler. “The only thing is that we’d like to be home more [the PawSox have played 15 of their first 24 games on the road] so we can work on some things. Defensively there are some things like holding runners and throwing to bases that we need to get better at, but it’s tough when you can’t get on the field and work on things.”