American League’s Kenley Jansen, of the Boston Red Sox, walks with his family during the All-Star Game red carpet show on Tuesday in Seattle. Lindsey Wasson/Associated Press

The Red Sox got about as much screen time in the 2023 All-Star Game as they had players in it.

One player, one out.

Kenley Jansen was Boston’s lone representative on Tuesday night, and his moment on the mound lasted exactly one batter and three pitches.

It was a short, but selfless moment. Before the game, Team American League Manager Dusty Baker informed him that he’d close out the ninth inning should it be a save situation, but when Team NL put up a fight in the eighth and Felix Bautista’s pitch count rose to 28 with two outs and a runner on, Jansen agreed to get in the game early.

Jansen took the mound, fired three strikes, and walked off again. If someone left the room to get a glass of water, they probably missed the whole outing.

Since Brock Holt’s own solo jaunt in 2015, the Red Sox have had at least three All-Stars each season. Some Boston batters made legitimate cases this year, but ultimately, Jansen made the trip alone.


The erstwhile Los Angeles Dodger competing against a Team National League replete with former Red Sox greats highlighted the absence of current Boston stars. With Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez in the starting lineup and Craig Kimbrel closing out the NL’s first All-Star victory since 2012, it wasn’t unlike a baseball-themed episode of the “Twilight Zone.”

At least Jansen got to be teammates with Nathan Eovaldi, who was one of several Texas Rangers representatives at the annual midsummer contest.

In many ways, the Red Sox’s All-Star Game experience was an oddly fitting microcosm of their season; things aren’t great, but they’re also not nearly as bad as they seem. Or, are things actually worse, because of how much better they should be?

This is a better baseball team than their place at the bottom of the standings suggests; at 48-43 (.527), the last-place Red Sox have a better record than every AL Central team. The other five last-place teams around the league are the Kansas City Royals (26-65), the Oakland A’s (25-67), the Washington Nationals (36-54), the St. Louis Cardinals (38-52) and the Colorado Rockies (34-57).

Boston’s lack of All-Stars, too, belies the talent on the roster. Ahead of the game, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette paid a compliment to Alex Verdugo, Masataka Yoshida, Justin Turner and Devers, telling reporters, “They’re all having All-Star type of years.”

Sifting and nitpicking through the leaderboards, Bichette is somewhat correct. Devers has the fourth-most home runs in the AL, Yoshida’s batting average and on-base percentage rank third and fourth and Verdugo is top-10 in most offensive metrics and arguably the league’s best defensive right-fielder. They may not have a single starting-lineup type of All-Star this year, but there were certainly worthy reserves.


The Red Sox haven’t managed much consistency this season, which somewhat obscures their true capabilities. Every team weathers injuries over the course of a 162-game season, but how many teams can lose three-fifths of their starting rotation (Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, Garrett Whitlock) between June 1 and July 2 and still manage the best record in baseball since June 14? They’ve cobbled together a middle infield without Trevor Story, Yu Chang, and Pablo Reyes, and are still a winning team. Boston leads the AL with 61 errors, including Kiké Hernández’s MLB-leading 15, and still have a better record than teams in better standing.

For all of those reasons and more, it’s no surprise Jansen is pushing for the Red Sox to buy, not sell, at the upcoming trade deadline. After all, if they can put together a winning record having already lost so much, what couldn’t they do?

“When I signed my two years here, I’m going to have my time invested here,” the veteran close said to the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast. “I want to be dedicated here. First of all, I love this organization. I love this city. I think it’s a great organization. It’s a winning organization, so to me, I don’t think you should break it. Break it and then what?

“I think we’ve got a good team. We’re just a few pieces away from probably being a very, very good team.”

With the deadline looming, the question of how capable this team truly is, and whether they’re worth building up or tearing down, will be answered one way or another.

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