Sometimes a player needs a break to become a star, which may happen for the Red Sox and Jarren Duran. The all-time classic is the Yankee's Wally Pipp missing a game as Lou Gehrig took over, and Pipp became a trivia question despite an outstanding MLB career.
Luis Tiant and David Ortiz are the two most notable reclamation projects in my personal Red Sox history. Tiant was washed up. Done. Finished. Salvaged from the Twins, Tiant went 1-for-7 for the 1971 Red Sox. Tiant had won 20 games a few years before and then lost 20 for the Indians, and Boston took a chance - a method we have seen utilized by Chaim Bloom.
Boston hung on to Tiant and was rewarded with 122 wins over eight seasons. Tiant became a Boston legend, especially with a gritty World Series game against the Reds, tossing nine innings and 173 (no typo) pitches in a 5-4 win in game four.
Ortiz was another gift from the Twins after they cut him loose after the 2002 season. Pedro Martinez said a good word to management, and they took a shot and signed Papi. Shea Hillenbrand, Jeremy Gambi, and Kevin Millar were ahead of Ortiz until circumstances gave him his chance; the rest is a legend.
Jarren Duran got his Red Sox shot thanks to unintended consequences
Tiant was supposed to be the bullpen guy and spot starter, but injuries and circumstances provided the perfect baseball storm, and Tiant entered the rotation full-time in August. El Tiante became a fixture and twice won 20+ games for Boston. Ortiz sat and waited while others failed or options became limited. Now it is Duran's turn.
Duran was a washout his first two Boston seasons, and his third was starting the same way. Duran started the season with Worcester (AAA) and was hitting a light .195 until he got his break, thanks to Adam Duvall getting his break -- Duvall's wrist.
Duvall was on a blistering pace until a pure defensive hustle injury cost the righty slugger a good chunk of his season. The Red Sox option was a recall of Duran, who has been electrifying since his return. Duran shows no signs of slowing down and may cement his place in the lineup for the next ten seasons.
With Duvall's one-year contract, the Red Sox may let him explore other options for 2024 and hand the centerfield keys over to Duran. Circumstances have given Duran another shot, and he has embraced it. Without Duvall's injury, Duran may have languished in Worcester or have been packaged in a trade.
The Red Sox injury list is substantial, but injuries provide system-wide opportunity. Players whose careers have stalled or are trying to get back to MLB can get the call when replacements are needed. This can filter through the system as rosters shuffle over unfortunate circumstances.
Baseball history is loaded with careers changed by the misfortune of another. An opportunity that can change the course of a team's history, as with Pipp and Ortiz. The three I mentioned are just a dip into the reservoir of second chances for Boston. And then there is Dazzy Vance, and it's never too late.