Cubs feeding off Ryan Kalish's all-out approach

Cubs feeding off Ryan Kalish's all-out approach
April 6, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Tony Andracki

Jay-Z's hit song "Hard Knock Life" was blasting through the speakers in the Cubs locker room following Sunday's 8-3 win over the Phillies.

It was fitting that shortly after the song ended, Ryan Kalish spoke to the media.

Kalish, a 26-year-old outfielder, may have felt like the whole world was against him as he endured injury after injury over the last three years. Shoulder surgeries and a cervical fusion procedure — performed by the same doctor who operated on Peyton Manning's neck — limited Kalish to just 93 games the last three seasons.

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So when asked if his big game Sunday was making the most of an opportunity, Kalish had one minor alteration to the question.

"I call it making the most of helping my team win," he said. "Every day, I just come in and I'm ready for whatever's thrown my way. With everything I've been through, I don't really care. I just want to give it my all when I get the chance."

With the Cubs offense struggling mightily through the season's first five games, manager Rick Renteria inserted Kalish in the two-hole Sunday and the speedy outfielder gave the team a big lift, drilling the first pitch he saw off the wall in right-center for an RBI triple.

It ignited the offense as the Cubs doubled their season scoring total in one game.

"Offense is always contagious," Kalish said. "I've done a lot of watching and I've seen it. Last year, I really studied the game and you see when teams get the bats going and everyone is in this together having fun.

"We just need to build off each day. We're in games. It's not like we're getting blown out or anything. Things are close. If we can keep this momentum going and continue to build, why not us?"

Kalish added a two-run double later in the game and also walked twice and made a nice catch up against the vines in left field. His parents were among the 26,712 fans at Wrigley Field, providing a "special" experience for Kalish after all they've been through with him.

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It's been quite the ride for the former Boston Red Sox draft pick who was once considered among the top prospects in the game. After all he's endured, his relief was palpable Sunday as he stood at his locker cracking jokes and sharing philosophies on life.

"It's been awesome," Kalish said. "I've enjoyed every single day. I'm trying to live my life like 'every day could be your last' type of mentality. With my story, it's the way I have to live and the way I think we all should live.

"We're all really blessed to be here in the major leagues. A lot of people aren't as fortunate to have that opportunity and I'm just trying to do what I can with it."