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Alex Cora announces Opening Day starter (at second base)

Rob Bradford
March 08, 2018 - 11:15 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It won't be a surprise to anyone when Alex Cora names Chris Sale his Opening Day starting pitcher. But he still is holding off on that proclamation.

The Red Sox manager did, however, feel comfortable enough to tab Eduardo Nunez as the guy who will get the nod at second base when the Red Sox kick off their season at Tropicana Field March 29.

"It looks that way," said Cora Thursday morning when asked about Nunez getting the start in the place of the injured Dustin Pedroia. "He's a guy that, he can play a lot of positions, but we know the situation we're in. We know where Dustin is, and he can play second, he can play other positions. But it looks that way."

Nunez got his first Grapefruit League start at second base Thursday, having played three innings in the field in a minor-league game Tuesday.

The move is a no-brainer considering what Nunez offered during his stint with the Red Sox last season. It was a presence that Cora highlighted when talking about how different the Astros viewed the Red Sox' lineup with and without the righty hitter around.

"It was an explosive offense with him from Pitch 1," explained Cora. "He was a different dynamic. He brought energy, he was dangerous at the plate and the baserunning part of it, he was a factor. We had to prepare for two different teams, in a sense. One with Eduardo, one without him. I was watching videos, and whatever happened – I don't like talking about it anymore but with Eduardo, it was very different, it was a different approach, as far as like, he was aggressive from Pitch 1, there was 'get me over fastballs and get ahead.' You had to be ready from Pitch 1, and that makes a difference. At that point, I read a stat not too long ago, when he signed, I think the difference of runs per game were way higher. He's just that energy burst. He was hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He's a dynamic player. He's a different guy and he made that lineup a lot different."

As for Pedroia, he continues to progress as planned.

"He's getting after it," said Cora of the second baseman, who has started to take batting practice on the field with the regulars. "His workouts in the mornings when he has to do it, either upper body or lower body, they're very intense. He's here at five in the morning doing his work and then he has to go through the whole therapy. There's a lot in Pedey's day. But daily, on a daily basis, you can see he's feeling a lot better. You ask him about last year, how quote-unquote painful it was, he doesn't feel anything right now. He feels so much better right now, so that's the most important thing."

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