The Boston Red Sox could have a tough decision to make down the line, thanks to a glut of productive outfielders.
Alex Verdugo is off to a strong start and Masataka Yoshida is heating up with 12 hits in his last 20 at-bats (including a two-home run, six-RBI performance). And Adam Duvall was simply raking the first 10 days of the season before an unfortunate injury.
Boston Red Sox: The Jarren Duran Experience
A solid spring training for Duran had many hoping this would be the season he finally reached his potential. Trouble was, newcomers Duvall and Yoshida, plus returnees Verdugo and Rob Refsnyder created an outfield logjam. This meant a start to ’23 in the Triple-A for Duran.
Given the opportunity back in the big league due to Duvall’s injury, Duran has been a productive force for the Red Sox.
Playing in 10 games, Duran is hitting .400 (14-35) with five doubles and one home run. The home run was of the grand slam variety, giving Duran a total of 10 RBI already in his short time with the Red Sox this season.
Duran has also scored seven runs and has an OPS of 1.054.
Another multi-hit game, Duran’s fifth this season, happened for the young outfield in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Baltimore. He went 2-4 but did strike out with runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the ninth.
Still, there’s a lot of positive happening for Duran in this small sample size. There were times in 2022 Duran looked lost, both on the field and at the plate. Over 91 career games prior to ’23, Duran had only 68 hits while hitting .215 and .221 in his first two seasons.
Giving Duran’s play, Boston will be presented with some options in regards to their outfield once Duvall returns.
Crowded outfield for Boston Red Sox
Given that Duvall is likely out six to eight weeks, there is still some time for Duran to keep getting at-bats. When Duvall’s return happens, perhaps towards the end of May, it’s hard to imagine Duran returning to Worcester.
Especially if he continues to hit the ball well and stay engaged in games.
One reason a return to Triple-A might happen is if the Red Sox think he won’t be playing much and want him to keep getting consistent at-bats. Which would be understandable, especially if in the coming weeks Duran has a drastic drop.
But, there are any number of scenarios that could play out in Duran playing on a regular basis. Duvall, upon his return, could see some more time at DH. That, in turn, might mean Justin Turner spending more time at first base, especially if Triston Casas hasn’t nudged his batting average over .200 by that point (unless, of course, Casas is hitting a home run every game or two).
Or a rotating outfield might come into effect, too, especially if all four continue to be productive.
Speculation aside, it’s best to enjoy this Duran outburst. The Red Sox offense has been keeping the team around .500, scoring the third most runs in the American League. Duran has been a huge part of that the last 10 days, finally living up to his potential. And hopefully building towards a successful future.