It's the last day of February, which means we are but hours away from the month of our...well, content for about a week, and then discontent from thereon in.
For now, however, here are the last bits of February minutiae from spring training and elsewhere:
Outfielder Ryan Kalish is on the comeback trail after neck and shoulder surgery over the offseason guaranteed the once top prospect would miss out on the beginning of the season. After being sidelined for months, Kalish finally threw a baseball today for the first time since his surgery. It's a start, but for his part Kalish recognizes it's a long road back:
"It was simple, nothing crazy," Kalish said. "It was fun, though. "This is a process we're going to take really easy."
He's not sure if he'll be ready to play in a game during spring training.
"I don't know," he said. "That's way too hard to tell. I would love it to be soon, but I don't think it'll be that soon. Hopefully it won't be too long."
(via ESPN's Joe McDonald)
Given the state of right field at the moment, a healthy and productive Kalish would be a welcome addition to the team. Still, after his injury-riddled 2011 performance (.209/.271/.279 in Triple-A Pawtucket), Kalish will likely be given some time in Triple-A to recover and prove himself.
Hopefully, Jose Iglesias will also be afforded that same opportunity, though an interview with Ben Cherington on WEEI today seems to suggest that Bobby Valentine will have the option of taking the defensive wiz back to Fenway when the team breaks camp:
"That's going to be up to Bobby and his staff in the end. Just because there's a competition doesn't mean everyone's equal in that competition. I think you go into spring training and the guys that have done it in the past have a leg up. Jose is someone we feel very strongly about down the road. In a perfect world, he would probably get some more time in Triple-A. But crazy things happen in spring training. We're not going to put a limit on anyone."
Weird things can happen during spring training, but personally I don't think any performance from Jose Iglesias this March would be enough to convince me he's MLB-ready after his last couple of years in the minors. Hopefully Bobby V feels the same way. Aviles/Punto isn't the most attractive combination in the world, but Punto can already field quite well, and Aviles certainly has the potential to hit a good deal better than Iglesias.
It's no secret that the Red Sox didn't bunt much under Terry Francona, but Carl Crawford seems to be preparing to make it a bigger part of his game come April:
"Last year I don't think I tried to lay down many bunts for base hits, so that should open things up for me a little bit more."
"I think I could always get better at it, I just never felt comfortable doing it," he said. "I probably got the reputation of not wanting to do it. If you're not comfortable the way somebody is teaching it to you, you're not going to be comfortable. We've just been trying to find that comfort zone.
(both via WEEI's Rob Bradford)
While sacrifice bunting is rarely a good idea, when it comes to players as fast on their feet as Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, bunting for a base hit is a legitimate possibility. As Crawford suggests, however, it's not so much for the actual results on the bunt as it is the threat. Even as good as a .333 average on bunts looks, it actually means a .333/.333/.333 line. What's more important is making the fielders honor the possibility--in particular the third baseman. After Crawford's disappointing 2011 season, every little bit can help.