Boston’s Triston Casas signals to the bullpen after hitting a home run during the first inning Saturday at Kansas City. AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

The Major League Baseball season is long. Very long.

Just ask Triston Casas. On Saturday he played his 121st game of the summer. He’d never played that many games in a season before. Not in Greenville, South Carolina, or Salem, Virginia, or Portland or Worcester. Not at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida, or with Team USA in the Summer Olympics.

Making it through a grueling season, keeping up your stamina as the games pile up, isn’t easy. Yet Casas is continuing to produce at a high level. In fact, he’s getting better as the season goes on.

Entering Monday’s game at Tampa Bay, Casas had the third-highest OPS in baseball (1.095) since the All-Star break. With a .431 on-base percentage and a .664 slugging percentage he trailed only Mookie Betts (1.140) and Shohei Ohtani (1.098). He is learning to make the continual adjustments necessary to keep impacting the game.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Casas told me in Kansas City after hitting a first-inning home run that led the Red Sox to a 9-5 win that snapped a five-game losing streak. “I’ve learned a lot about the game, my routines, how to prepare for each and every day. But you know, ultimately I understand that it’s a grind and there’s a lot of baseball still left to play.”

It’s been a season of growth for Boston’s 6-foot-5, 244-pound first baseman. He entered the year a highly touted prospect but was hitting just .133 by the end of April. Many fans were calling for his demotion to the minors.


Yet the Red Sox stuck with him, showing faith in his ability to improve. That faith has been rewarded. Casas hasn’t just been one of the league’s best rookie hitters in the second half, he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball. Period. Overall this season, Casas is batting .265 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI.

“Lately, what he talks about in meetings, he executes,” said Manager Alex Cora after Casas’ two-hit, two-RBI night Saturday. “He had a great game plan and knew what he was looking for. He hit the ball to left-center. That was good. He ran the bases well, attacked second. He’s been playing better defense, too. He’s been great. He’s been one of the best hitters in the big leagues in the second part of the season.”

The defense is the last part of the equation for Casas. His minus-3 defensive runs saved is one of the worst on the team and will probably keep him from winning American League Rookie of the Year. Cora believes that Casas, just 23 years old, will continue to make adjustments in the field as well as at the plate.

“I’m going to continue to make them through this season,” said Casas, “and for the rest of my career. It’s a game of adjustments. So, tweaking little things here and there, it’s going to be necessary.”

Casas is one of the more thoughtful interviews you’ll find after a major league game. He thinks about his answers, and often credits teammates and even the other team before speaking about himself. It’s like talking to a pro golfer after a round and hearing him run through his day, shot by shot.

This weekend Casas took time to express how much fun he’s having in his first full year for big-league ball.

“It’s a blessing to come out here and play the game that I love for a living,” said Casas. “I look at it as a privilege, not as a task. To do it with this group makes it that much more special.”

As the Red Sox season winds down, on the heels of one of the more disappointing weeks in recent years, Casas remains one of the bright spots. His bat should be a cornerstone piece that Boston builds its future around.

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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