Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Eduardo Nunez on 2018: 'I would like to come back'

Rob Bradford
September 18, 2017 - 6:44 pm

BALTIMORE -- Ask Eduardo Nunez about the Red Sox a few years ago and you would get a very different answer than what he was offering Monday afternoon.

"When I was with the Yankees, we hated Boston," he told WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox' game against the Orioles at CamdenYards. "I didn't know what it was to be on that side. But I love it. There's a lot of young guys here. There's a lot of great people here. That's all that matters.

"That was how it is [between the Red Sox and Yankees]. it wasn't just me, it was everybody. All I knew was that we hated each other, and I knew David Ortiz. But then when you're here and you see the culture and they care about you and they try to protect you, you love it. It's different."

The altered perception could mean more than just smiles for the last few months of the 2017 season. According to Nunez, the newfound familiarity also might lead to some interesting conversation this upcoming offseason.

Nunez is eligible for free agency for the first time in his career, and, thanks in part to his brief time with the Red Sox, Boston has already been put on his short-list.

"You have to ask the GM if they want me to come back. If they don't want to sign me, it doesn't matter. It has to be a mutual goal. But, yeah, I would like to come back," he said. "It's a great organization. It's a great group. Every year you have a chance to go to the playoffs, so that's a gift."

Nunez, who is making $4.5 million this season, has put himself in position to garner a decent payday. In 113 games between the Giants and Red Sox, he is hitting .312 with a .798 OPS, 12 homers and 24 stolen bases. The 30-year-old has also established himself as the kind of positive influence in the clubhouse that would lead the Red Sox to show some interest in keeping around. (Which seems to be the case, as reported by the Boston Herald.)

The issue would seem to be finding a position for Nunez with the Red Sox.

But a case could be made that it would be worse allocating some funds to the utilityman considering the uncertainty with Dustin Pedroia's knee, the potential need for a back-up plan at third base as Rafael Devers matures and perhaps simply the hope he could become a right-handed version of what the Sox were hoping Brock Holt could have offered. Also, Chris Young is coming off the books and if the Sox wanted to integrate Nunez more in the outfield as a right-handed-hitting complement, that could be a possibility.

"There's great players here and I know it won't be easy to be in the lineup every day," he said. "You have to produce to be in the lineup."

The first order of business for Nunez is to get back on the field. After suffering a bad bruise and sprained PCL in his right knee ("I was scared. I couldn't walk the next day. I thought I broke something in my knee," he remembered), the infielder is hopeful that his return will be coming before the Red Sox leave Cincinnati this coming weekend. Some of the timetable will be dependent on passing the running tests that are scheduled for Wednesday.

"It feels better," he said. "It's improving quickly."

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