Jarren Duran gets vulnerable about how Red Sox struggles impact his mental health
Jarren Duran wants Red Sox fans to know that he’s not happy with his 2022 season, either
Individually and collectively, the Boston Red Sox have underperformed and disappointed almost all season.
Jarren Duran is no exception. He hasn’t been able to effectively make the jump from Triple-A, where he’s hit .293/.363/.503 with 23 extra-base hits over 46 games, to the big leagues, where he was hitting a lowly .220/.283/.365 with 20 XBH over 57 games before being optioned earlier this month.
Duran’s plate discipline actually improved significantly since his rookie season last year. His strikeout rate dropped from 35.7% to 28.8%, and he nearly doubled his walk rate. Still, the Sox need more from him and he’s been unable to provide. His plate struggles, combined with defensive deficiencies, led to a demotion back to the minors.
The 25-year-old is painfully aware that he hasn’t been good enough. It would be shocking if he wasn’t, given how vocal Sox fans and the media have been. But before he got optioned to Triple-A Worcester, Duran did something many athletes don’t: he opened up about how it feels to be underperforming in front of the world:
"“It has been pretty hard. I can’t talk about too much of it, but I’ve been pretty low this year. It has been a struggle to stay here (in the majors).I try so hard to please everybody so when I hear people badmouthing me and they’re our home fans, I take it to heart. It’s like, ‘Dang, I need to try harder because I’m just trying to make everybody happy.’ It’s so hard. It’s a (game of failure), a (sport of failure). I just ask for forgiveness whenever I don’t do what they ask me to do. I’m trying my best. I just hope they know that.I’m kind of just tearing myself up internally and get pretty depressed and stuff like that. I find it hard to reach out to people because I don’t want to bother other people with my problems. I kind of just build it up inside myself, which obviously makes everything a lot worse.“"
Duran isn’t the first American League East player to talk about the toll struggling in the game takes on his mental health. Certain teams’ fanbases and media are harsher and more intense than the rest. In Boston and New York, athletes are under a microscope, and if they’re not performing to the lofty standards, the backlash is often brutal. Ahead of the August 2 trade deadline, Joey Gallo revealed how much his collapse with the New York Yankees impacted his life, calling it his “rock bottom.”
"“I don’t go out in the streets… I really don’t want to show my face too much around here.I went through a lot of adversity and I really had to question myself a lot. My confidence suffered. I would say I hit rock bottom for the big leagues. So for me, I just was trying to remember to be a good teammate, play the game the right way, play the game hard and not do something stupid that I’d regret. I learned a lot about myself, I guess. Baseball is a tough game. But it definitely made me stronger because not many people have gone through what I’ve gone through.”"
Baseball is a business that players chose to get into. But could you do your job with thousands, if not millions of people watching you and criticizing your every move?
Duran isn’t shying away from or refuting the criticism he acknowledges he deserves. And it’s not that he isn’t trying to do well. No baseball player makes it this far without hard work and dedication. The people around him say he holds himself “to a high standard than anyone else does.” And anyone who’s seen him play when he’s doing well has gotten a glimpse of the player he could be for the Red Sox if they can just find a way to unlock him and harness his natural ability.
At the end of the day, these athletes are human beings. We often lose sight of that. Hopefully, players continuing to be vocal about how the game impacts their mental health will make things better.