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Five players bringing early-season excitement to surprising Red Sox

Five players bringing early-season excitement to surprising Red Sox

Five players bringing early-season excitement to surprising Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Here’s a word we haven’t used to describe the Red Sox in a while: exciting.

They make diving catches. They take extra bases. They pound the strike zone. What young teams lack in experience, they can often make up for in energy, and the Red Sox are thriving this way early in the 2024 season.

Monday night’s 9-0 thumping of the embarrassing A’s featured five Oakland errors, yes, but also three steals from Jarren Duran, 10 strikeouts and zero walks from Tanner Houck to complete a stellar first turn through the rotation, and even a clutch hit from Triston Casas, whose two-out single in the first opened scoring rather than let the A’s strand a leadoff runner on third.

It’s too soon whether it will last, because the division remains brutal, the young pitchers haven’t proven they can hold up, and early shoulder woes for third baseman Rafael Devers bear watching, but that’s a story for another day. For right now, the Red Sox are worth watching and that’s a victory in and of itself.

So where’s the excitement coming from? Let’s take a look around the roster.

The rookie center fielder set the tone right from the jump when he stretched a double into a daring triple on opening day in Seattle, but he didn’t stop there. Rafaela has also made a couple of diving catches and aggressively taken extra bases while playing with energy that’s reminiscent of a young Mookie Betts.

In Monday’s blowout, he contributed a pair of sacrifice flies while continuing to justify manager Alex Cora’s decision to put him in the starting lineup. He still swings at everything – not only has he not walked yet, he’s only reached one three-ball count – but he has brought life to the lineup.

Jarren Duran, OF

Duran’s game-changing speed has been most evident not in his team-record five steals through five games, but the one he left on the table when he danced down the line on opening day with a clear swipe of home in his sights before aborting 20 feet from paydirt. It’s safe to say he’s going to get one of those before the year (month?) is over.

Duran’s a threat to run every time he reaches base, and putting him in left field gives the Red Sox one of the best defensive outfields in baseball just a year after being mostly a trainwreck.

Talk about someone with folk hero potential. O’Neill isn’t particularly tall, but he’s on the short list (alongside Duran) of baseball’s most ripped physiques. His…

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