On Tuesday night, Jarren Duran will be in a Red Sox uniform — but not in the big leagues.
With his time playing for Team USA in its successful mission to qualify for the Olympics complete, Duran is scheduled to return to the Worcester Red Sox as they open a six-game series in Syracuse against the Mets’ Triple A affiliate.
Still, any mention of the 24-year-old outfielder is almost unavoidably tied to the question of when he might be called up to the majors.
Duran’s stock is soaring. When Baseball America unveiled its latest prospect rankings Monday, Duran had rocketed from No. 86 to No. 29 — a reflection of a player who has shown in several environments that he has made huge strides to add power potential to his game-changing speed.
In 18 games with the WooSox this year, Duran is hitting .278/.366/.625 with seven homers — two more than he hit in 132 minor league games in 2019. His performance for Team USA (7 for 19 with a double, triple, and walk, good for a .368/.400/.526 line) earned raves from manager Mike Scioscia and veteran teammate Todd Frazier.
Conversations about his potential promotion to the big leagues continue to pick up outside of the Red Sox. What about within the organization?
“Obviously the conversations will always be there,” said manager Alex Cora. “This is a guy that’s going to impact this team in the future — and the future doesn’t mean tomorrow or a month, maybe next year or two years.
“But we know he’s a good player. The way he impacts the game — offensively, running the bases — is eye-opening. I talked to [Red Sox minor league coordinator Darren Fenster, who coached third for Team USA] and the things that he did running the bases, he changed the whole complexion of that team. We know that he’s a good player.”
But good, in the eyes of the Red Sox, does not necessarily mean major league-ready. The Sox value what a player can learn from extended exposure to Triple A — whether it’s adapting to a league that adjusts to pitch away from his strengths, or controlling his strikeout rate (25.6 percent in Triple A thus far), or improving his outfield play both in center and at the corners.
“We know that he still has some things that he needs to get better,” said Cora. “We keep talking about him and we’re very happy with where he’s at right now. Now he has to go back and play and keep getting better, but obviously, like [chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom] said in spring training, I think it’s something that we’re going to keep paying attention to him and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
A Sale sighting
For the first time in several weeks, Chris Sale rejoined the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He threw his full arsenal on flat ground. The lefthander, who has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Fort Myers, Fla., will stay with the Sox during their current eight-game homestand and may join the team on its next road trip.
It’s possible that Sale will face live hitters during this stretch. At the least, he is likely to have hitters stand in the box without swinging as he continues his progress toward rehab games and eventually — though not soon — a return to the big league team.
“He is in a great place,” said Cora. “He feels great, he’s excited for what happened this weekend [with the sweep of the Yankees], obviously excited about where we are.
“The way he put it is, like, ‘Man when I come back, what am I gonna do?’ You don’t have to worry about that. Just get healthy, be ready, and I know he’s going to contribute.”
Valdez pitches in
Phillips Valdez earned his first save in Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Yankees, a meaningful career milestone for the righthander. Valdez spent 10 years in the minor leagues before joining the Rangers in 2019 and is now in his second season with the Red Sox, who claimed him off waivers in February 2020.
“Being in Yankee Stadium and being in that moment, to be able to get the ball in my hands to try to get the save is something that I really appreciate,” the 29-year-old said through a translator. “Obviously, my journey has been a long one, but it’s one that I really appreciate because it made me into a better individual and a better player, and I’m just really fortunate to be up here at this level.”
Martinez still out
J.D. Martinez sat for the third straight game with soreness in his left wrist. However, he was able to swing a bat late during the game Sunday night, and the Red Sox are hopeful he’ll be ready to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Astros … Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier, who suffered a concussion last week when struck by a line drive, is back at home and in stable condition. He is expected to return to full baseball activities after a necessary period of recovery … Closer Matt Barnes, who pitched three straight games in New York, said that he’s never pitched four games in a row in his life. Cora, who has suggested that he overused Barnes in 2019 and hurt the pitcher’s performance for a stretch in June, did not seem inclined to break that streak. “You just have to be careful,” said Cora before Monday’s game. “We have to play the long game. It’s 162-plus for us; that’s the way we’re thinking. Somebody will step up. I think stuff-wise we are where we want to be [in the bullpen]. Those guys are throwing the ball amazingly and we’ll take care of [Barnes] when we have to take care of him.”
New leading man
There are times when teams commit themselves to endless debates about details to make a decision. But even in the information age, there also are times when they throw stuff against a wall. Case in point: Christian Arroyo, leadoff hitter. “We’re just trying to get something going up there,” shrugged Cora. “How can I put it? [From] the information department, there’s no numbers, there’s nothing. We’re just like, you know what, hopefully he goes there and he does his job. There’s other guys that are scuffling right now, they’re trying to find their swings, we’ve just got to find somebody that goes up there and puts [up] good at-bats and sets the table — or hits a home run.” ... Members of the family of Manny Familia, the Worcester police officer who died while trying to save a drowning boy over the weekend, were recognized on the field prior to the game and participated in the ceremonial first pitch.
Globe correspondent Kris Rhim contributed to this report.