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Jarren Duran indicates he will get vaccinated before the Red Sox’ next series in Toronto

Jarren Duran said he really missed being with his teammates when he had to sit out the Toronto series.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

CHICAGO — When the Red Sox go to Toronto again to face the Blue Jays at the end of September, you can expect outfielder Jarren Duran to be there.

For this past week’s series, Duran and pitcher Tanner Houck were placed on the restricted list as players who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and thus not permitted to play in Canada.

Duran changed his tune Friday morning ahead of the 6-5, series-opening loss to the Cubs, saying he will be available for that late-season series.

“I love this game too much to miss out on the opportunity to play baseball,” Duran said. “I could[n’t] care less about the money or service time or any of that, but I just missed the boys and miss playing baseball. So, you know, that’s kind of the deciding factor.”


Houck wasn’t as forthcoming.

“I’m not going to comment on it,” Houck said when asked if he would get the vaccine.

Duran has taken advantage of his most recent opportunity in the majors and appears a fixture in the leadoff spot. Going 2 for 5 with a home run and pair of RBI, he’s batting .333/.387/.544 with four stolen bases in five attempts.

“I mean, he’s a good player,” manager Alex Cora said. “We know it and obviously we missed him over the week, but like I said, you know, we’re not making excuses.”

Houck is 6 for 6 in save opportunities since being made the closer. Cora hinted that he’s confident Houck’s vaccination status will change.

Hill hurts knee

Rich Hill left Friday’s game with a left knee sprain. Hill worked his way through four scoreless innings but relinquished two runs in the fifth, behind a Nelson Velázquez RBI triple and a Christopher Morel RBI ground out.

During that inning, Cora and the training staff came out to check on Hill, who was grabbing at his left knee. Hill was pulled after plunking Patrick Wisdom to load the bases. He completed 4⅔ innings, allowing three runs (all earned).


Sale is ‘getting close’

The Red Sox and Chris Sale were encouraged by his rehab start Thursday at Double A Portland. The lefthander went four innings, yielding just one earned run on four hits, a walk, and a hit batter. He struck out seven.

“His mechanics were sound,” said Cora, citing the reports he got. “He was consistent. Physically he felt great. Felt like the slider was good.”

Sale will throw a bullpen Saturday. His next rehab start, his fourth, is scheduled for Triple A Worcester Wednesday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The game will be at Polar Park, beginning at 6:45 p.m.

It’s still to be determined whether that will be Sale’s last rehab start.

“He’s getting close,” Cora said. “Everything we’ve heard and the way he feels, you can sense it. The way he’s talking. He’s in a great place.”

In a special place

The last time Cora was at Wrigley Field wasn’t as a manager or bench coach, but as an ESPN analyst in 2016. The Cubs had just broken their curse, winning their first World Series since 1908. Cora had an ESPN hit at Wrigley at 6 a.m. the following morning. As he walked on the field, there were still some individuals left over from the festivities the night before, including Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox executive and then president of baseball operations for the Cubs.


“ ‘What the [expletive] are you doing here!?’ ” Cora remembered a rambunctious Epstein shouting out to him. “It was fun. I mean, I got a lot of videos from the night before.”

The Cubs aren’t the same team from 2016, 31-46 after their win Friday. Still, the l matchup between two historic franchises was something Cora told his players to embrace. The Red Sox have only played two series at Wrigley Field, the last in 2012.

“Wrigley in the summer, Fourth of July weekend, Red Sox-Cubs, enjoy it,” said Cora, “because it’s a special place and we don’t come here often and it should be fun.”

Injury report

Nate Eovaldi (back/right hip) and Garrett Whitlock (right hip) will throw bullpens Saturday. Kiké Hernández (right hip) took 15 swings Friday. “He feels good, he was running,” Cora said. “But we have to be patient.” Josh Taylor (back) threw in back-to-back games this week, so the Sox are trying to figure out the next steps for him . . . Josh Winckowski will start Saturday against Chicago’s Alec Mills. Connor Seabold will likely take the ball for the Red Sox Sunday against Keegan Thompson . . . Rafael Devers is the only Red Sox in the running to be a starting position player in the All-Star Game, coming in second to Cleveland’s José Ramírez in the first phase of voting. The top two at each position other than outfield, which will draw three from the top five, participate in a run-off beginning Tuesday to determine the starters. Neither Xander Bogaerts (third among shortstops) nor J.D. Martinez (fourth at DH) qualified for that vote, but can still be chosen as reserves.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.