There is a considerable risk when unsettled players like Jarren Duran refuse to be vaccinated

In 10 games, Duran is hitting .297 / .366 / .486 with two steals in place of Red Sox main midfielder and leadoff Kiké Hernández. He looked like a dynamic player with the ability to contribute to the Sox for years to come and who is already having a short-term impact for a competing team.

“[His speed is] elite, “said manager Alex Cora.” It was fun to watch. “

For now, Duran’s place in the big leagues is likely temporary, depending on Hernández’s unavailability. But his planned return to Worcester has already been postponed with a slower-than-expected return to the pitch.

With a return to the division game on tap in Toronto on Monday, Hernández – who has been on the injury list since June 8 – remains on the bench. Cora said there is a possibility that Hernández is not ready to play against the Blue Jays.

With Canada requiring all visitors to the country to be vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entry, Duran will not be eligible to stay with the Sox. Assuming Hernández isn’t ready, it seems likely Duran will join Tanner Houck on the limited list, with the Sox summoning another player from Triple-A Worcester.

Jarren Duran will not play when the team visits Canada.Barry Chin / Globe solo show

“It’s difficult [not to be able to contribute in Toronto]. It is also a personal decision. That’s just what I have to decide, “said Duran.” Obviously, I want to be in training every day. But it’s just a personal decision that I’m still thinking about with family, friends and everyone. “

Duran joins Houck as Red Sox players who won’t be able to play in Toronto. In April, Houck – then in the rotation – and Kutter Crawford (now in Triple-A) were on the COVID-19 restriction list for the first trip to Toronto.

For players, the decision to remain unvaccinated has professional repercussions. Players lose both salary and service time (used to calculate eligibility for arbitration and free will) while on the restricted list.

For Duran (who wasted time last September due to a COVID infection and was sidelined again for an infection in April) and Crawford, the decision also comes with a missed opportunity to impress players who they have yet to establish themselves in the major leagues. Likewise, Ryan Fitzgerald, a versatile Triple-A prospect, a former indie leaguer who has made his way to Triple-A Worcester, where his performance has him on the brink of the big leagues, would not be a candidate to join the Sox in Canada because it has remains unvaccinated.

“If I miss mine [big league] shot for that reason, it is what it is, “Fitzgerald said recently.” I won’t think twice. “

The MLB and MLB Players Association agreed that vaccination would be a matter of individual player choice in 2021, a position that remained in effect in 2022. (MLB considered but did not implement a requirement for minor leagues not in the roster of 40 men – and therefore not covered by the collective labor agreement – get vaccinated.)

However, the decision not to vaccinate will impact the team at large, as the Red Sox will be deprived of one of their most valuable rescuers and potentially their hitter’s lead (barring a return from Hernández).

Duran’s speed made him an important part of the roster.Staff by Jim Davis / Globe

Next week’s visit also serves as a reminder that Houck, Duran, potentially Chris Sale (who said he remained unvaccinated during spring training) and others – barring a change in Canada’s entry requirements – may not be available at the end of the year, when the Sox play their penultimate series in Toronto.

“Of course we want [Duran] and all of our players are available everywhere, but we know this is a decision they have the right to make for themselves, “said Chaim Bloom, chief baseball officer of the Red Sox.” We will continue to strongly support vaccination for all who are eligible. During the season, players waste time for all sorts of reasons, and it’s up to us to build depth to be able to withstand those absences and still win games. “

While some teams like the Yankees and Astros have been fully vaccinated for their trips to Toronto, the Sox aren’t the only ones forced to make roster decisions for games at Rogers Center due to the unvaccinated status of some of their players.

The Twins were missing four players, including winger Max Kepler and rescuer Emilio Pagan.

The White Sox went to Canada without key pitchers Dylan Cease and Kendall Graveman.

Robbie Ray, who won the Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays in 2021, was unable to accompany the Mariners to Toronto.

The significance of any absence is potentially significant. After all, last year, the Sox beat the Blue Jays in the wild card rush of a match, despite the end-of-season COVID-19 outbreak that hit the club.

“We know that a game, a court, an inning changes the course of the season,” said Cora. “We lived it last year.”

Now, the Sox – in the midst of an exceptional 16-4 backed largely by Houck and Duran – and Jays find themselves head and neck again, with the two teams separated by a half game. The staff available in the remaining matchups could be the difference between a playoff seat or an October vacation. The consequences of personal decisions will not happen in a vacuum.


You can contact Alex Speier at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.

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