Jarren Duran giving the Red Sox a reason to look at him twice
Going into the offseason last year, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran was already looking ahead to the 2023 season. He, presumably, had it all mapped out in his head:
- Step 1: Get stronger in the offseason.
- Step 2: Make a good impression at camp.
- Step 3: Have a good showing at the World Baseball Classic.
- Step 4: Be the starting center fielder for the Red Sox on Opening Day.
The first step went to plan perfectly. The first thing you'll notice about him is that he'll nearly break your hand when you shake hands with him. Duran is a strong, tall, imposing figure, who doesn't let anything -- especially defective bats -- get in his way.
The second step went to plan pretty easily as well, In nine spring training games, Duran hit .333/ with .455 on-base percentage and .667 slugging. He also hit one home run, collected four RBI, three doubles, and also scored five runs.
The third step didn't go perfectly to plan. Had Red Sox teammate Alex Verdugo not been alongside him on Team Mexico, or had Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas not been on the team either, Duran would have surely seen more playing time and shown more of his potential. Sure he showed some promise, but he was limited to one start, and was limited to pinch-running/hitting duties the rest of the tournament.
The fourth step, especially, did not go to plan. This was the outcome if all three went to plan, but he was hit by some roadblocks, unfortunately.
What hurt him instead, was the ball club looking for help from the outside -- most notably the signing of Adam Duvall to play in center field.
The signing of Masataka Yoshida was not as big of a blow to Duran, but to sign Duvall -- a player who has historically played the corners -- to play in Duran's spot in center field, was not ideal. Duran was told he would start the season in the minors at Triple-A Worcester.
When talking to Duran before the second game of the season for the WooSox, Duran said he was coming into the season with a more positive mindset, and he wasn't going to be as hard on himself this year as he had in years past.
When Duvall fractured his wrist sliding for a fly ball at Comerica Park vs. Detroit just over a week after the season started, many thought the Red Sox would call Duran - who already was tearing up minor league pitching -- up from Triple-A, instead they called up Bobby Dalbec, which, according to MassLive's Chris Cotillo was due in large in part to the amount of left-handed pitching they would be facing immediately following Duvall's injury.
When that string ended, Boston placed Duran on their active roster and sent Dalbec back down to Worcester, all this coming from Boston.com's Peyton Doyle. Duran was slated to make his season debut on Marathon Monday vs. Shohei Ohtani, but the rain made it so that he never faced Ohtani, and instead faced left-hander Tucker Davidson first.
The right-handed heavy streak has continued past Monday, and Duran has feasted on his matchups thus far -- hitting .412, with four doubles, and six RBI in his first five games this season - not to mention 11 total bases.
Duran has long been considered the center fielder of the future for the Red Sox, and given how hot he has been as of late, has given Boston a reason to consider looking at him twice before sending him down to Triple-A immediately when Duvall gets healthy again.