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What return of Dustin Pedroia might mean to Eduardo Nunez

Rob Bradford
May 18, 2018 - 8:16 pm

Dustin Pedroia is playing for Triple-A Pawtucket this weekend, with an eye on returning to the Red Sox next week.

Part of this conversation has to also include Eduardo Nunez.

"He’s going to play, I mean, more than people think," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Just moving him around. Everybody is going to benefit from having Dustin here. The bench stronger. You can give Raffy [Devers] a few days. Xander a few days. And you don’t feel that you have no options late in the game. I think everybody is going to benefit."

Nunez's existence will be interesting going forward.

His life as an everyday second baseman hasn't gone as swimmingly as the Red Sox hoped, with Nunez's knee clearly limiting his range. The offense for the righty hitter also hasn't resembled a season ago, with his batting average sitting at .233 to go along with a .610 OPS.

The thinking, however, is this return from Pedroia will do exactly what Cora has predicted - allow everybody to benefit.

"It's what I expected when I signed here. It's no surprise," Nunez said. "I've done it all throughout my career, so it's nothing new."

Also, when asked if getting off his balky knee will be part of the positive, he responded, "For sure. It's good for everyone. It keeps everyone fresh. It's something we all need to stay fresh all year long."

So now, while most of the attention starts to shift toward Pedroia, we should keep an eye on Nunez. This was a player, after all, Cora said made such a difference to last season's Red Sox offense that the Astros were forced to prepare for two different teams -- one with the infielder and one without.

For whatever reason, we are still waiting for the return of that threat.

"The last two weeks? A lot of solid contact," Cora explained. "He had a horrible game the other day. He’ll tell you. He saw nine pitches and swung at eight, and it seemed like seven were not in the strike zone. But he was coming from a good road trip. When he’s trying to hit the ball the other way, he’s in a good place.

"When he tries to pull the ball, he gets into trouble because he starts to expand. It seems like last year, and you guys saw it, the way they pitched him here, it seems like everything was in and he was just playing pepper against the Green Monster. That’s what I remember watching video of him last year. This year, it seems like, they’re spinning the ball a little more. When they go in, it’s with a purpose, not to pitch him inside to show him inside and then go back out. He’s been expanding the zone, but he shows signs toward the end of the road trip – he did it in New York, too – being able to stay on pitches. He swings. He’s been swinging his whole career. All of a sudden he’s not going to be Joey Votto or Alex Bregman, like he’s going to stay in the strike zone, but he can do a good job going the other way, and he knows. It’s just a matter of getting back to that."

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