On Tuesday, Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder, a procedure that included a repair of a posterior labrum tear. The Red Sox described the surgery as successful. But what does that mean? A couple of position players to undergo similar procedures offers a glimpse.
In 2008, B.J. Upton proved a uniquely destructive source against the Sox in the American League Championship Series. His spectacular performance (4 homers, 11 RBI in the seven-game series) occurred while he had a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Upton underwent surgery in mid-November. After opening the 2009 season on the disabled list — partly a precaution against Tampa Bay’s season-opening roadtrip to cold-weather venues — Upton was back by mid-April, almost exactly five months after his procedure.
In 2010, Adrian Gonzalez had surgery to repair the labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder on Oct. 20. He was ready to play in games by mid-March, about five months after the procedure. (It’s worth noting that the Sox felt comfortable enough with the idea of labrum surgery on the first baseman’s non-throwing shoulder that they were willing to trade three top prospects to acquire him.)
An industry source said on Wednesday that a similar timetable could be expected for Kalish, suggesting that the 24-year-old outfielder could be ready to play (barring a setback in his rehab) by early July. So, as disappointing as it is for both Kalish and the Sox that the promising prospect will be sidelined for all of spring training and roughly half of the regular season, it appears premature to suggest that his 2013 season will be a lost one.
Even so, given that he will be returning from surgery and that he struggled with the physical rigors of the baseball season in 2012 (coming off a pair of surgeries — one on a vertebrae in his neck, another on the labrum in his left shoulder), any expectations for his potential performance in 2013 are rightly measured. In 36 big league games in 2012, Kalish hit .229/.272/.260/.532, and he was unable to hit over the final three weeks of the season due to the pain in his right shoulder that ultimately required surgery. Those numbers represented a considerable drop from a very promising two-month big league debut in 2010, when Kalish hit .252/.305/.405/.710 with four homers and 10 steals in 53 games.
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