Red Sox call up prospect Duran for offensive spark

May 7th, 2022

BOSTON -- The Red Sox need a spark for an offense that hasn’t performed up to expectations so far this season.

And Jarren Duran might just be the right person to provide it.

The Sox called up Duran for Friday’s opener of a three-game series against the White Sox.

However, the timing of Duran’s addition had more to do with Kiké Hernández going on the COVID-19 related injured list than the club’s recent play.

Hernández hasn’t tested positive yet, but is symptomatic. Duran, who was inserted into the leadoff spot for Friday’s game, will hold down center field until Hernández returns. He went 1-for-4 at the plate in his first game back in the Majors, hitting an eighth-inning triple and scoring on an RBI groundout from Trevor Story in the Red Sox's 4-2 loss to the White Sox.

Depending on how the speedy left-handed hitter performs, could he stick around even after Hernández is back?

“We’ll talk about it depending on what happens,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He’s here today. Let’s put it that way.”

Duran was thrilled to be back, mainly so he could wash away the bitter taste he was left with when his first opportunity to play for Boston didn’t go well last season.

“After the first time, I felt like a complete failure,” Duran said. “What people say about you … you hear what people say about you and you feel bad about yourself. The second time, it feels like redemption. I’m going to come out here and play the way I know how to play and play with my hair on fire.”

Last season, the Red Sox called up Duran just following the All-Star break for the start of a series at Yankee Stadium.

In 33 games, he slashed .215/.241/.336 with two homers and 10 RBIs. Perhaps most surprisingly, Duran stole just two bases.

He comes to the Red Sox in the middle of a torrid hot streak. In 15 games for Triple-A Worcester, Duran has a line of .397/.478/.638 with two homers, 11 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

However, Duran wasn’t interested in hearing about his Triple-A numbers.

“I feel good,” Duran said. “But none of that matters up here. Nobody cares what you’ve done in the Minors when you get to the big leagues.”

In this stint with the Red Sox, Duran vows to be truer to who he has always been as a player. Last year, he got caught up in trying to hit home runs after going on a power tear at Triple-A.

Now, he plans on leading with his best tool -- his speed.

“I feel like I used to have that in college and then I lost it when I got to pro ball,” Duran said. “I feel like I’m finally getting back to it again, which is a good feeling. I feel like I can use all my tools again.”

Cora is all for Duran getting back to his roots.

“I think we’re getting to the closest version as far as hitting line drives and bunting,” Cora said. “I think he’s 3-for-3 this season in bunt attempts. Just go out there and run. The fun part of it is when he’s at first and the ball is in the gap and just see him run.

“I talked to him today, just go out there and have a day. Put pressure on them. I think a little energy is always good and he’s full of it, full of energy.”

Entering Friday's action, Boston ranked 24th in the Majors in runs scored (90 in 26 games) and had gotten little offensive production from everyday outfielders in Hernández, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Verdugo.

But Duran is trying not to pay any attention to things like that.

“I just want to play my game and stay where I’m at. I don’t need to look up and play manager, as people say,” Duran said. “When they call me up, that’s when they know that I’m ready. I don’t need to think about that. That’s their job. My job is just to play.”