It was an evening in Cleveland this season. One that ended in a Red Sox loss to the Guardians.
Toward the back of the visitor’s clubhouse at Progressive Field sat Justin Turner, near Jarren Duran’s locker. Duran had gone cold after his scorching-hot start to the year, batting .154 (10 for 65) to go along with 26 strikeouts during the slump. Turner felt it was the right time to give his young teammate a pep talk, reminding him of the ebbs and flows of a season after Duran had gone 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
Duran listened and nodded his head, affirming that the outfielder was receiving Turner’s feedback. It was quintessential Turner, a player who despite it being his first year with the Red Sox, had become a leader in the clubhouse at a rapid pace. As the season nears its end, and with the Sox’ playoff hopes dwindling, Turner is still that same guy.
“I don’t think it takes a lot of time or effort,” Turner said Friday, reflecting on that moment with Duran. “I know what it feels like to have a bad game and the team loses and you feel like if you would have done something better, maybe there would be a different outcome. So I just make sure I stop by guys’ lockers and tell them to keep their heads up.”
“The same goes for players who have good games. It’s important to a player to know that teammates and those around the club are noticing success.”
Turner has had success in a Red Sox uniform, perhaps the best season of his career. At least when it comes to his output at the plate.
The regular designated hitter entered Friday’s series opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park batting .282/.354/.474 with an .828 OPS and 22 homers. The 38-year-old’s 92 RBIs represent a career high. He has a $13.4 million option for next season, an opt out that he will surely exercise given he could earn more on the open market.
Remaining with the Sox is something of interest to Turner.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” he said before going 1 for 3 with an RBI double in the Sox’ 11-2 loss to the Orioles. “I’ve enjoyed everything about the city. I’ve enjoyed everything about coming to work here. The organization is first class all the way around. There isn’t a bad thing I can say.”
Even with his on-field success, it’s moments like that June evening with Duran that also stand out.
“What you’ve accomplished in this game doesn’t give you instant credibility or doesn’t mean anyone respects you right away,” Turner said. “You have to earn that. It’s something that I truly believe in and it’s something that I try to show up every day and do what I need to do to continually earn that respect from every single person in that clubhouse.”
Duran was 2 for 5 with an RBI in his next game against the Guardians and batted .340 in his final 17 June games.
Duran expects to be ready for spring training
Speaking of Duran, he was at Fenway following surgery on his left big toe last week that ended his season.
Duran, who is in a boot, said he will have the wrap around his toe removed in a couple of days, which will allow him to do a bit more activity. He’s expected to be ready for spring training.
He was in the midst of a fine season where he hit .295/.346/.482/ with an .828 OPS and eight homers. Duran also swiped 24 bags.
“I was able to keep a positive mind-set and just work through some things,” Duran said. “I came in and did good. Then I struggled and then did good again. I hit those waves and I was able to fight through them.”
Houck up for Clemente Award
Tanner Houck was named as the Sox’ 2023 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award is given to a player who best represents the game of baseball on and off the field through their positive contributions which includes sportsmanship and community involvement.
This is the first time the pitcher has been nominated for the award by MLB.
“This group, they get it,” manager Alex Cora said. “With all due respect to [my other teams] they did their thing very quietly throughout the years but this group they’ve been amazing in the community.”
Since arriving in Boston, Houck has been a proponent of adoption. In 2018 he created “Pitch for Adoption,” a campaign aimed at raising money to place children between the ages of 6-18 who have experienced abuse or neglect with families.
Turner was the 2022 Clemente Award winner in his final season with the Dodgers.
Reyes, Kluber with WooSox
Infielder Pablo Reyes (left elbow) began a rehab assignment Friday with Triple A Worcester. He was 1 for 3 (single) as the WooSox’ second baseman. On Saturday, Corey Kluber (right shoulder) will pitch for the WooSox in a rehab appearance … The Red Sox hosted Childhood Cancer Awareness Night at Fenway. Children and caregivers formed a ribbon and many Sox players were wearing cleats designed by Jimmy Fund patients that will be autographed and auctioned off … The Bruins’ Milan Lucic was on hand to toss out the ceremonial first pitch.