BOSTON (CBS) — By any measure, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran was qualified to earn a spot on the Team USA roster for the upcoming Olympics. The problem for Duran is that he may be playing too well.
With the 24-year-old center fielder hitting 15 homers with a .981 OPS for Triple-A Worcester this season, he remains on the cusp of getting a call-up to the big leagues for the first time in his career. Because of that, Team USA opted to leave him off the roster, so as not to have to lose him in the midst of fighting to win gold in Tokyo.READ MORE: Red Sox Fall To 2nd Place In AL East With 9-5 Loss To Rays
Duran spoke with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche about that situation on Sunday.
“You know, it sucks, because I would love to wear USA across my chest,” Duran said.”But they have a good team and I hope they go on and win gold. I think they can do it and I hope they represent us really well.”
The California native took part in Olympic qualifying games in June, and he excelled. He batted .368 with a double, a triple and three RBIs for a .926 OPS in 19 at-bats. Such a performance would generally have led to an Olympic trip, but Duran said that the Red Sox remained in communication throughout the process and that he understands why decisions were made.
“Yeah they talked to me about it, just letting me know like, ‘Hey, it’s OK, don’t worry about it. We just want you to work hard in Worcester.’ And I totally understood 100 percent,” Duran told Roche. “I know they got my back and I got their back, so whatever they want me to do, I’m gonna do for them.”READ MORE: Revolution Defeat New York Red Bulls 3-2 For 4th Straight Win
While Duran was honest about his disappointment in not getting to represent the U.S., he did share his genuine excitement for teammate Jack Lopez. The 28-year-old utility man has played in the minors since 2012, and while he’s yet to get the call to the big leagues, he did make the Olympic roster for this summer.
“Oh absolutely. Jack, he’s the best teammate ever, man,” Duran said. “He’s such a nice guy, played against him in Puerto Rico, he’s a good player, and I hope they go and win gold. That’d be awesome for him.”
Considering the reason that Duran won’t be going to Tokyo is tied to how close he is to getting his big league call-up, the talk of that inevitable elevation is sure to gain momentum in the coming weeks. For his part, Duran said that he tries his best to ignore such chatter.
“I try not to think about it. I try to just focus on the game of the day, because you don’t want to get lost in what you’re doing. You’ve gotta come to the field every day, work hard, and play for your team that day. You can’t be thinking about the big leagues and moving up, because then you lose yourself. So I think it’s important to stay with your team and where you’re at at the moment,” Duran said. “For me I ignore the noise pretty good. I just try and play a lot of video games, hang out with the guys, stay off social media. Just be in the moment. I think getting too caught up in the noise is really distracting. So I think just hanging out with the teammates and the family and friends is a really important thing to just keep you where you are and worried about what you got for the day.”
When asked for a Red Sox player he admired while growing up, Duran quickly pointed to Johnny Damon, who “left it all on the line.” And when that call to the bigs does come for Duran, he anticipates feeling some serious emotions.MORE NEWS: Chris Sale Tosses 5 Strong Innings, Strikes Out 7 In Rehab Start With Worcester
“Yeah I’ve thought about it. I feel like I’ll get pretty teary-eyed about it because it’s a lifelong dream that you’re making come true,” Duran said. “But who knows — who knows what the emotions will be when it happens?”