Nobody expected Eduardo Nunez to repeat his brilliant 2016 season and indeed he did not as injuries limited him to 114 games, but the per-game production was pretty similar. He hit over .300 with both San Francisco and Boston, adding eight homers and six steals in just 38 games after being traded to the Red Sox in late July. Another 100 plate appearances and Nunez would have breezed past 30 steals again. The power production over the past two years still seems fluky -- he had just a 1.4 Brls/PA last season -- but Nunez has proven that he's capable of reaching double digits in the right hitting environment. He qualifies at second base, third base and outfield and he's a 40-steal threat in a time when stolen bases are on the decline league-wide. However, Nunez is probably closer to a true-talent .280-.285 hitter as he puts the ball in play consistently but rarely walks (4.9 percent walk rate).
Nunez said he felt fine after making his Grapefruit League debut Thursday, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. Nunez was scheduled to appear in Wednesday's spring game, but wet field conditions prompted the Red Sox to play it safe and postpone his debut by a day. He ended up playing four innings at second base Thursday, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Most importantly, he reported no issues with his knee in his first game action since spraining his PCL in last year's ALDS. Despite entering camp behind his teammates after signing in mid-February, Nunez should have plenty of time to get up to speed before the start of the season. He's expected to open the year as the Red Sox's starting second baseman with Dustin Pedroia (knee) on the shelf.
Nunez was initially slated to start at second base in his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday against the Twins, but was scratched due to rainy weather in Florida, freelance sports writer Maureen Mullen reports. Since Nunez didn't come to terms on a contract with the Red Sox until mid-February, he entered spring training behind the rest of his teammates and is only now ready to participate in games. It looks like his spring debut will have to wait until Thursday, however, as the Red Sox aren't eager to expose Nunez to slippery infield conditions while he ranks as the top replacement to second baseman Dustin Pedroia (knee), who is expected to be sidelined until late May. Look for Nunez to get his fair share of at-bats in over the remainder of Grapefruit League to prepare for a full-time role to begin the season. He'll likely occupy a spot near the bottom of the Boston order, which could limit his running opportunities relative to the past two seasons, during which he has stolen a combined 64 bases.
Manager Alex Cora indicated the Red Sox plan to debut Nunez at designated hitter against the Rays next Tuesday, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald reported earlier this week that Nunez could be in the lineup Saturday or Sunday -- which is still a possibility -- but the current plan is for him to debut against Tampa Bay. The 30-year-old is expected to be the Red Sox's primary second baseman until starter Dustin Pedroia is able to return from offseason knee surgery.
Nunez is expected to make his spring debut this weekend, Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald reports. Nunez was a late addition to Boston's roster and has been getting up to speed after an offseason spent rehabbing a knee injury. He's going through full baseball drills and running at 85-90 percent said manager Alex Cora, who is targeting Saturday or Sunday as a day he could serve as the designated hitter in a Grapefruit League game. Cora added they have him on a "slow plan," with an eye toward getting him on the field and ready to start at second base when the regular season kicks off.
Nunez (knee) signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox on Thursday, Robert Murray of FanRagSports.com reports. Specifics regarding the deal have yet to be released, but assuming he passes his physical, Nunez should be back with the Red Sox in 2018. The 30-year-old split time between San Francisco and Boston last season, joining the Red Sox via trade in late July. While injuries limited him to 114 games, Nunez was once again productive when healthy, hitting a combined .313/.341/.460 with 12 homers and 24 stolen bases. A knee injury limited him to one game in ALDS, but he's expected to be healthy heading into spring training and should open the season as the team's starting second baseman with Dustin Pedroia (knee) expected to be sidelined until May, though he could be shifted to a super-utility role once Pedroia returns.
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