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With Kiké Hernández pushing to return to the Red Sox, Jarren Duran’s time in center could be limited

Jarren Duran has held down the center field position for the Red Sox during Kiké Hernández's protracted absence from a hip injury.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Jarren Duran’s tenure as the Red Sox’ everyday center fielder appears to be coming to an end.

Kiké Hernández (right hip flexor strain) is still on-target to rejoin the team ahead of a three-game series against the Pirates set to begin Tuesday.

Hernández played in his last rehab game Sunday for Double A Portland, going 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

Manager Alex Cora said before Sunday night’s 3-0 shutout win over the Yankees the team needs to be careful with Hernández, who hasn’t played in a big league game since the beginning of June. Nevertheless, it seems as though the Sox will move Duran to a bench role when Hernández returns to the lineup and assumes his role as the everyday center fielder.


Duran still has a chance to see some time in center field, however.

At the beginning of the year, Cora indicated the presence of second baseman Trevor Story gave the Red Sox a chance to keep Hernández in center field.

But, with Story still on the shelf with a right wrist fracture and Christian Arroyo filling the role as the everyday second baseman, Cora mentioned the possibility of Hernández playing second on occasion, though the bulk of his time will come in center field.

After a 2021 season in which Hernández played a role in the Sox’ success, batting .250/.337/.449 with 20 homers mainly out of the leadoff spot, Hernández struggled before hitting the IL this year. In 51 games Hernández hit just .209/.273/.340.

Yet, the hip could have been an issue, with Hernández intimating to Cora that it bothered him during parts of spring training. Even if Hernández doesn’t replicate the offensive production of his 2021 season, he still represents a massive upgrade in center.

Jarren.Duran could be the odd man out when Kiké Hernández returns.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Despite looking better at the position over the last week, Duran still remains a liability in center, where entering Sunday night’s game he has played 385 innings. Yet, he still was a minus-6 in defensive runs saved.


“We miss him,” Cora said of Hernández. “With him, being versatile is huge. Obviously, offensively, he was on and off, right? It wasn’t a great start. But the quality of the at-bat, the preparation, all that stuff that you guys don’t see, that’s a positive for the team.”

Strahm raring to return

Lefthanded pitcher Matt Strahm (left wrist contusion) said he felt good after throwing a live batting practice Sunday. Strahm, who went on the injured list July 13 after being struck on the left wrist with a comebacker during a series against the Rays, had significant swelling in that area which kept him from throwing.

Now, though, Strahm said he’s ready to get back on the mound in a real game.

“I would argue right now that I can be active tonight,” Strahm said. “But it’s obviously the medical staff’s decision more so than mine. So we’ll see.”

Cora said that Strahm could rejoin the Sox after just one rehab game or, perhaps, without making a rehab appearance. The team wants to see how he bounces back Monday from Sunday’s live BP that was around 30 pitches.

Making some moves

To make room for Michael Wacha’s return to the roster, the Red Sox optioned reliever Darwinzon Hernandez to Triple A Worcester . . . Outfielder Rob Refsnyder (right knee sprain) could return Tuesday after he homered in his first two at-bats to go 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs and two runs scored for the Double A Portland Sea Dogs in a 10-7 win over the visiting Richmond Flying Squirrels. . . The Red Sox set their rotation for their three-game series against the Pirates, beginning Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Righthander Nick Pivetta (8-9, 4.51 ERA) will draw the start Tuesday opposite Pirates righthander Mitch Keller (4-8, 4.25 ERA). Sox lefthander Rich Hill (4-5, 4.75 ERA) and righthander Nate Eovaldi (5-3, 4.15 ERA) will go Wednesday and Thursday against opposing pitchers to be determined.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at Follow him @byJulianMack.