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Eduardo Nunez reveals pain he was dealing with

Rob Bradford
September 05, 2018 - 2:54 pm

ATLANTA -- When Eduardo Nunez stepped to the plate in the second inning of the Red Sox' Aug. 17 game against the Rays few knew what it meant. The moment came and went, with Nunez flying out to right field. The 31-year-old had just potentially become $1 million richer.

Nunez had it built into his current contract that if he reached 400 plate appearances in 2018 his player option for 2019 would go up from $4 million to $5 million.

Few knew about the financial milestone, and that's exactly how Nunez liked it. He has, after all, been dealing in secrecy a lot this season.

"Seriously, no," Nunez told when asked he had contemplated his contract situation beyond this year. "During the season we don’t talk about business too much. You want to separate from the real things. Play good, win and the rest will take care of itself."

Ironically, it's an approach that has led to a most uncertain existence.

The right knee that collapsed while running down to first base on the first at-bat of the American League Division Series has continuously left Nunez in a hole that he has had a difficult time digging out from. ("If I had the chance again, in that situation, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t come back because now we now. Before we didn’t know. We had to take a chance. I thought I was OK to play," he said of attempting to participate in the postseason. "It’s part of the sport. Sometimes you have to take a risk. You have to gamble. You have to try.")

While making his way to what is now 472 plate appearances, Nunez would never admit the knee continued to be an issue. He wasn't hitting the same. He wasn't fielding the same. He wasn't moving the same. Yet the infielder insisted to the media all was OK.

Now his story is different.

"I feel better. At the beginning of the season, I was hurt," he said. "I just tried. My knee didn’t feel good. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t move at second base. I couldn’t drive the ball. I was going through a tough process. But now my knee feels better. The last couple of weeks is when my knee felt better. Now I can enjoy playing. It was sore. I was playing all nine innings with pain. I was trying."

Nunez now points to strides made when doing specific knee exercises in the weight room as proof of his progression. But the real evidence would seem to be coming from his recent production, both in the batter's box and at third base.

"Seeing the ball come off his bat the last couple of weeks has been impressive," said Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers. "The stability with his leg, with the knee he hurt, just talking to him and putting two and two again I don’t think he was able to work out like he had in the past to build up his leg strength. When you come off an injury like that you favor it and subconsciously you don’t let it go. I think now he’s feeling stronger and letting go, feeling that stability. His backside is working so much better with his swing.

"He’s always been a hitter. He’s just a hitter. He’s got good hands. He puts it together. I just felt like his lower half was all over the place. He was sinking sometimes and had a weak back-side during the first part of the year. It wasn’t by design I just think physically he wasn’t able to maintain it every day. Now that the stability is there he is able to have a base to let it go. Kind of a like a sling-shot, if you don’t have a stable base you can’t let it go."

Now Nunez says he is "close" to 100 percent, admitting his previous public evaluations weren't really close to 100 percent accurate.

"I didn’t want to make excuses," he said. "It’s part of the game. It’s part of the business."

Fortunately for Nunez, business is good once again.