Boston Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran chases down a ball off the wall hit by the Royals’ Kyle Isbel on Friday night in Kansas City, Mo. Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

There hasn’t been a lot of good news for Boston Red Sox fans of late.

The Red Sox began last week by trading away their starting catcher. They ended it with one of the ugliest weekends of baseball we’ve seen all year. Then on Monday, the world learned that Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley would be retiring as a team broadcaster.

It was a rough way to start the team’s first day off since the All-Star break. Maybe that will give Manager Alex Cora’s team a chance to reset and regroup after losing 3 of 4 to the lowly Royals, a team that entered the weekend 23 games under .500 and had already traded away key players to continue their ongoing rebuilding process.

The Sox lost, and lost ugly. Sunday’s 13-5 embarrassment stood out as a low point in a season full of them. Jarren Duran lost several balls in the Kansas City sun and then lost his composure yelling at fans in center field.

“I’m just learning my craft,” said Duran after the game, “working each day, coming here busting my butt and doing what I can do. I have teammates helping me and keeping me positive.”

It’s hard to stay positive about this team right now. The weekend put the Red Sox five games out of a wild-card race that is threatening to pull away and leave Boston behind. They rolled into KC feeling good after taking 2 of 3 from Houston. Boston felt it was ready to make a move in the race, and was facing a Royals team already thinking about next year.


In the end, it was nothing more than a battle of last-place teams. And the Royals were the better last-place team over the weekend.

“We’ve just got to be better,” said Cora on Sunday. “The whole, ‘We’re going to be fine, we’re going to be fine …’ We’d better start winning games. It’s very important.”

The ugliness wasn’t just in center field. On the mound, Darwinzon Hernandez had one of the worst outings we have ever seen. He walked the first three batters in the eighth inning, gave up a two-run single and walked another before mercifully being pulled.

Hernandez and Duran have been thrust into more prominent roles after front-office moves. Jake Diekman was traded to the White Sox for Tommy Pham, forcing the Red Sox to bring up the left-handed Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester. Duran became the everyday centerfielder after Boston released Jackie Bradley, Jr. That move was made necessary by the acquisition of Eric Hosmer.

Duran, who began his professional career as a second baseman, is still working on the transition to outfield. Mookie Betts made it seem easy when he did it in 2018 … but as we know Mookie Betts is a one-of-a-kind player.

“He’s our center fielder,” Cora said of Duran. “We trust him. This is a kid that is part of what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re going to keep rolling with him.”


They will have to, at least until Kiké Hernández returns from his hip injury. That should be later this month. For now, Duran will hold down the fort as fans hold their breath whenever the ball is hit his way.

The Red Sox get back to work Tuesday night when they play the defending champion Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. At this point last season the Braves were a .500 club, but were in the midst of a 16-2 stretch that would launch a championship run.

The Braves turned their season around by going all-in at the trade deadline, believing they had the core of a contending team.

The Sox didn’t go all in last week. And by the end of the week they were on the verge of being out of the playoff race completely.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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