FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Eduardo Nunez is likely to be the opening-day second baseman for the Boston Red Sox while Dustin Pedroia recovers from offseason knee surgery.
“He’s a guy that he can play a lot of positions, but we know the situation we’re in and we know where Dustin is,” manager Alex Cora said Thursday. “It looks that way.”
Nunez would be the first player other than Pedroia to start a Boston opener at second since Mark Loretta in 2006. Pedroia made his major league debut Aug. 22 that year.
Pedroia had left knee surgery on Oct. 25 in which Dr. Riley Williams III restored cartilage, and the Red Sox said then he was expected to miss more than the first month of the season.
The 30-year-old Nunez was an All-Star with San Francisco in 2016 and was acquired by the Red Sox last July 26 for a pair of minor leaguers. He hit .321 with eight homers, 23 runs and 27 RBIs in 38 games for Boston but was slowed when he bruised his right knee on Sept. 9.
His only regular season appearance after that was on Sept. 25, when he aggravated the injury and was removed in the third inning. He started the Division Series opener against Houston but re-injured the knee while running out a ground ball. He also was on the disabled list from June 20-July 13 with a right hamstring strain.
A veteran of eight major league seasons that also included time with the New York Yankees and Minnesota, Nunez became a free agent after the World Series and stayed with the Red Sox for a deal that pays him $4 million this year and includes a $4 million player option in 2019.
Nunez made his exhibition season debut Thursday, going 0 for 2 against Tampa Bay and playing four innings of defense. He is expected to play second base Saturday against the Twins and be the designated hitter Sunday against Baltimore.
“He’s a full go now,” Cora said.
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