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Cubs unsung heroes: Ryan Kalish, May 7, 2016

He had only seven at-bats for the Cubs in ‘16. One of them was really important.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Ryan Kalish was one of “Theo’s guys” brought over to the Cubs. Kalish was selected by Theo Epstein’s Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2006 draft, hit well in their system and had a pretty good 52-game stint in Boston in 2010 at age 22 (.252/.305/.405, 41-for-163, four home runs, 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts).

It seemed, at the very least, that he’d become a good MLB fourth outfielder, perhaps vying to take a spot in Boston’s outfield.

Then he got hurt. He played only 24 games in the Red Sox system in 2011, a few games in Boston in 2012 (not very well, .532 OPS in 103 plate appearances), missed the entire 2013 season and then was signed by Theo to play for the Cubs in 2014.

He made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster and hit .242/.303/.332 in 100 plate appearances. He was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Justin Ruggiano, which in hindsight seems like the old “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” meme.

The Cubs let him go after 2014, and no one signed him for 2015. Kalish next played in winter ball before the 2016 season, and Theo again signed him to a minor-league deal in March 2016. He didn’t play at all during spring training, but after a good 21-game stint at Iowa (.368/.471/.509, 21-for-57) he was recalled May 3 when Matt Szczur was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

He pinch-hit twice and played one full game, May 5 against the Nationals, going 1-for-4 in those three games with a sacrifice bunt.

And then came the game of May 7. The Cubs trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the sixth. They’d already gone through three pitchers — Jason Hammel, Spencer Patton and Clayton Richard. In that sixth inning, the Cubs had already scored a run and had the bases loaded with two out when Kalish was sent up to bat for Richard.

Kalish came through [VIDEO].

It wasn’t pretty and it barely got down, but Kalish’s two-run single gave the Cubs the lead in a game they eventually won 8-5. A week later, when Miguel Montero was activated from a DL stint, Kalish was designated for assignment. A few days after that he wound up on the minor-league DL with appendicitis, and later in the year he had knee surgery. He never played in MLB or the affiliated minor leagues again.

The two-run single was his last MLB hit. It helped the Cubs win a game in their great 103-victory regular season, and you can be sure Kalish got at least a partial postseason share and a World Series ring.