Eduardo Nunez injures knee in return; Mookie Betts hurts wrist
When Eduardo Nunez went down with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Sept. 9, there was no guarantee that the player who sparked the Red Sox lineup after arriving via trade in July would return this season.
The Sox and their training staff approached the injury with an open mind, but they also had to brace themselves for the worst.
“It wasn’t something that we could say, ‘You know what, we’re going to get him back,’ ” said manager John Farrell.
Nunez was back in the lineup Monday night in a 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays.
He batted second as the designated hitter but left in the third inning favoring his knee after he fouled off a pitch.
“I thought we were more ready,’’ Nunez said after the loss. “My foot got stuck in home plate. [I’ll] keep working, keep positive and hopefully in a few days we’re going to try again. It [stinks], especially this time of year, really close to the playoffs.’’
It was not a healthy night for the Sox. Right fielder Mookie Betts exited the game in the eighth inning with a left wrist injury.
“[We’ll] get it looked at in further detail tomorrow,’’ Betts said. “I’m not really that concerned. I think it’ll be fine. It’s just like a sharp pain.
“I can’t really move my hand for a little bit. I don’t really know what’s going on so we’ll find out tomorrow.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Price afforded relief
In two relief outings since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 14, David Price threw 21 pitches in two scoreless innings against Tampa Bay on Sept. 17, then threw 40 pitches over 2⅔ shutout innings against the Reds last Friday.
The question as Price settles into his new role is whether he’ll be used in back-to-back games.
“That’ll be dependent upon how the usage from this point forward takes place,” Farrell said. “Likely wouldn’t go to him tonight for another day of rest after 40 pitches the other night.
“We would only pitch him back-to-back if it was an outing in which it was 12 pitches or less, and he was available the next night.”
The Sox bullpen owns the second-best ERA in baseball (3.02) behind the Indians, and Farrell said Price adds another dimension.
“Since David Price has returned, I’ll be honest with you, David Price has kind of allowed that bullpen to kind of fall in line a little more consistently,” Farrell said. “And that’s in addition to the way other guys are pitching. Our bullpen has been fantastic this year, and they’re throwing the ball well at a critical point in the season.”
Getting on with it
Since sliding into an everyday role as leadoff hitter earlier this month, Xander Bogaerts is hitting just .227 with a homer, but he also has 10 walks, 11 runs scored, and a .393 on-base percentage.
Farrell said the batting average belies the quality at-bats Bogaerts has put together atop the order.
“Whether it’s attached to a spot in the order, I’ll tell you what, we moved him from the six-hole back to the top of the order and the at-bats have gotten much more consistent hard contact, getting on base more frequently, being able to better utilize his speed when there’s not someone ahead of him that might be on base that’s not a base-stealing threat or more of a runner,” Farrell said.
“Bogey’s had a challenging year in some ways — physically, from a performance consistency standpoint — but maybe this move to the top of the order has been kind of a fresh breath for him, and he’s playing like it.”
In response to President Trump’s recent comments on professional athletes not standing for the national anthem, Major League Baseball’s players union issued a statement Monday saying, “We will always support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression. Unless or until there is a commitment to have a discussion about the issues, why wouldn’t those who are impassioned, have a platform and have a voice, offer their concerns.”
Farrell, who has said he would “fully support” any player’s freedom of expression, said Monday he didn’t feel the need to have a conversation with the team.
Betts, whose father is an Air Force veteran, said he respects athletes who demonstrate during the anthem, but he will stand to recognize the flag.
“There’s different views,” Betts said. “Much different view from different places. I just kind of have my view on it. Obviously, I have a bunch of family members that served in the military, so I make sure I recognize that. But, you know, it just depends on who you are, and that’s what makes America great. You have freedom of speech.”