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Red Sox reinstate Enrique Hernández from the COVID list

Jarren Duran heads back down to Worcester.

Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Red Sox had to make a couple of roster moves prior to Friday’s series opener against the White Sox, placing both Enrique Hernández and Rich Hill on the COVID list. As the corresponding move for Hernández, the team re-called Jarren Duran for his first taste of the majors this season, presumably in search of a spark. Duran started the game, led off, and had a pretty solid night including a triple (which, granted, should have been a single and an error). In the post here about that move, I assumed that while Hernández may only be on the list for a day or two, Duran would be up for longer than that. Well, you know what they say about assuming. The team announced on Saturday that Hernández was indeed making his way back from the COVID list, but Duran was optioned back down to Triple-A Worcester.

The Hernández part of this is pretty straight forward. He had never actually tested positive for COVID, but was feeling symptoms and kept away from the team as a precaution. Presumably he tested negative a couple of times, is feeling better, and is now back with the club. He’s struggled this year to the tune of a 64 wRC+, but given how important he was to the team last year both offensively and defensively, it’s obviously too early to give up on him as a starting player on this team.

The Duran part of it is mystifying to me. As I mentioned in the linked post above, I never thought they would call him up for just a one- or two-day stint. That is typically left for fringier players, not legitimate prospects, and especially for a move like this where someone coming up to replace a player on the COVID list does not need to be on the 40-man roster. I suppose there is an argument that both Hernández and Alex Verdugo have too much of a track record to cede much playing time, if any, and Bradley’s defense has been legitimately valuable in right field. So, in turn, perhaps there is not everyday playing time for Duran, and if he’s not playing every day he should be somewhere he can.

First off, I would reject that premise as I think you can afford to sit Bradley plenty, and the other two are playing poorly enough where you can create a reasonable rotation to get all four the playing time they warrant at this point. But even if you disagree with me, it’s a weird move to call up Duran at all. It would make more sense to me to keep him in one place until he’s ready to come up for an extended time, and use a short-term call-up like Rob Refsnyder or Jaylin Davis, which they’ve already done. In a vacuum, it’s a confusing move but not some grand injustice. But there’s been a lot of strange personnel decisions really since the end of the lockout, and this just adds to the list.