Duran sent down; parallels with Ellsbury?

August 24th, 2021

BOSTON -- Just because was optioned to Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday doesn't mean he won't resurface and make an impact at some point this season.

There is precedent for this -- most notably Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007. Ellsbury got his initial call-up to the Majors that season on June 30. In a game two days later, Ellsbury electrified Fenway Park by scoring from second -- yes, second -- on a wild pitch by Rangers reliever Willie Eyre.

Duran, who is ranked the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, thrilled the crowd at Fenway in a similar way on July 28 when he roared around the bases for what initially appeared to be an inside-the-park homer but was called a triple and an error by the official scorer.

Ellsbury's first call-up to the Majors expired on July 5, when he was sent back to Triple-A. He resurfaced for one day on Aug. 17, only to be sent down, and then came back for good on Sept. 1.

By October, Ellsbury was a force, and one of the key reasons the Red Sox swept the Rockies in the World Series.

"He made an impact later in the season," manager Alex Cora said of Ellsbury. "I think it's something players sometimes have to go through. This is a hard level. You know, Joey [Cora's] saying it's MLB, four-A. So there's growing pains. It's not easy just to come here and produce, and obviously where we're at roster-wise, it made sense for [Duran] to go down there and get at-bats.

This isn't to say Duran will perform similar heroics this October, but you never know at what rate a prospect will develop fully and get the opportunity to play regularly.

"There's a balance," said Cora. "We're to do everything possible to win here. But at the same time, if the roster moves a certain way and he's not going to get at-bats, the best thing for him is to get at-bats down there and keep working on the things he was working on here. He'll be OK. We cannot make any promises that he'll be here in 10 days or 15 days whatever, but one thing for sure, he's part of the future."

In his first stint with the Red Sox, Duran slashed .221/.236/.372 with two homers, eight RBIs and perhaps most surprisingly, just one stolen base.

"He's not the first promising rookie to get sent down," said Cora. "He's not the first promising rookie to get sent down in this organization. He's not the first outfielder that's very fast that gets sent down in the middle of the season, so we'll be patient."

What does Duran have to do to be more productive next time he comes up?

"There are a few things he has to work on defensively, running the bases, bunting a little bit more," Cora said. "We gave him the homework and he'll work on it and we'll see where he takes it. As far as the other stuff, the way he goes about his business, it's amazing.

"Obviously it's not easy to come up here. I think it's a lot harder this year, because of the lack of repetitions last year, but he's a guy we really like. We still like him the same way we like him when we called him up July 15 and somebody we trust."

Cora also trusts Barnes
Though closer had another tough day on Monday, giving up two runs in the top of the ninth to blow the save in a game the Red Sox officially won, Cora doesn't seem to have any inclination at this time to switch closers.

Entering Tuesday, Barnes had a 15.19 ERA in eight outings in August.

However, Cora thought there was some bad luck involved in the outing Barnes had on Monday, including some soft contact and some shoddy defense.

"After the fact, you look at it and see what really happened," said Cora. "Of course, we're not pleased we gave up the lead and he's been having struggles. But at the end of the day, his stuff is still there. I do believe you can ask Travis [Shaw], we don't make a play [at first base].

"Sometimes that's what it takes. You make one play and he feels comfortable and he feels good about himself. But the fact is that he has been struggling and the fastball is not playing as it was earlier in the season, and that's different. But he's still going to get big outs for us late in games."

Jimmy Fund cause special to Red Sox
Tuesday was the start of the 19th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park. The event, which will continue Wednesday, has raised $58 million for cancer treatment/research since 2002.

It is a cause near and dear to the Red Sox, and, in particular, to Cora, who lost his father to cancer when he was a kid.

"It hits my family. It hits everybody. It's a special day for everybody here. It's a special day for the region," said Cora. "I think it has become something more than the region. A lot of people get involved. It's something that we know we're part of it. We love to be part of it."

Cora went out of his way to thank Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio, the longest-tenured member of the Boston media, for his generous contribution.

Miller donated $20,000 on behalf of late journalist Mike Shalin. In past years, Miller has always supported the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.

"There are a lot of amazing people around here, including Jonny, and we know Jonny is amazing with this cause every year, and thanks for that, Jonny, for what you do for the Jimmy Fund," said Cora. "I want to thank everyone who gets involved."

To learn more or make a donation, visit www.JimmyFundRadioTelethon.org.

You can also donate by calling 877-738-1234 or make a $25 donation by texting KCANCER to 20222.