A year ago, Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran opened up about his mental health concerns, showing a level of transparency around an issue that has often been ignored in sports.
Recently, Duran — in the midst of his best season since making his Major League debut in 2021 — made several posts on his Instagram story indicating that he was again confronting struggles regarding his mental health.
Boston manager Alex Cora was asked about Duran’s post by reporters on Thursday, acknowledging that the team is aware of it.
“We’ve talked to the player, and we’ll keep it private,” Cora said of the specifics.
Asked about the growth of mental health awareness in sports, Cora maintained that the Red Sox have “been on top of it” since he first arrived as a player in 2005.
“I think we do a good job taking care of guys, talking to them,” said Cora.
“I think Jarren is in a good spot, actually,” Cora added. “I talked to him before the game yesterday, baseball related, and like I said before, I think he took a huge step last year when he opened up with Chris [Cotillo, a Red Sox reporter for MassLive] about his situation, how he felt. Obviously we live in a world that social media rules, and I saw the message. But we’ll keep it private, and we’ll keep talking to the player, and he’ll be ready to play.”
On the field, Cora referenced how well Duran has played in 2023.
This has been the case even after Duran was initially sent to the minor leagues at the beginning of the season.
“If you were to tell me that he [would be] hitting .299 with an .850 OPS when we sent him down in spring training, I’d say yeah, I’ll take that player,” Cora noted. “It’s just a bad stretch for him. I think the quality of the at-bats are still the same, he’s still with the same game plan. Guys are going to make adjustments, and now it’s time for us to make adjustments. He’s not starting today because of the lefty, but he’ll be ready to play.”
As the Red Sox manager pointed how, Duran will likely be back in the lineup against the Yankees during the upcoming series in the Bronx given the plethora of right-handed pitching in New York’s starting rotation.
Over the last two weeks, Duran has been held to a .161 batting average and a .212 on-base percentage.
To change things up, he’s tried to get some help from one of the best possible sources: teammate Rafael Devers. It’s part of the collective support system Cora sees as important in helping address mental health concerns.
“That’s what we are, the coaches, the support system that we have here, the players, we’re all teammates,” Cora reasoned. “We want the best for him. Yesterday he came out early and hit with [Devers]. Raffy had a few ideas about his swing and all this stuff. So he’s in a better place.
“Coming in your first year to a big league clubhouse is not easy, and I think he did a good job last year with the group,” said Cora of Duran’s year-to-year progression. “This year he feels more comfortable. He has a year under his belt. That helps. He understands how it works, so far it’s been really, really good.”
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