LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Eduardo Nunez hit .321 with an .892 OPS in 38 games for the Red Sox last season, filling in very effectively at second base when Dustin Pedroia was on the disabled list for all but one game in August.
Now a free agent, Nunez could possibly return to the Sox.
“He’s still on our radar, sure,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Wednesday.
Pedroia is expected to miss at least two months recovering from knee surgery, so there’s a clear need for a second baseman. Nunez’s defensive versatility would allow him to fit into the roster beyond that.
“We wouldn’t have interest if we didn’t think he didn’t,” Dombrowski said. “But I wouldn’t want to really say much more. He’s a free agent and we’re competing against other people for a player’s services. He did a good job for us and we like him.”
Absent an addition, manager Alex Cora said he would mix and match at second base. Of the players now on the roster, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Deven Marrero have experience at the position.
Nunez ended last season with a patella tendon injury in his right knee. He did not have surgery but is still recovering.
The Francona tree
Four of Terry Francona’s former players are now managers: Cora, Kevin Cash (Rays), Gabe Kapler (Phillies), and Dave Roberts (Dodgers).
“Very, very proud. They’ve all grown up and moved on, but in this game, when you move on, it doesn’t mean you quit caring about people,” he said.
Asked if he had any advice for Cora, Francona waved off the idea.
“I don’t think guys need advice. There’s a reason that somebody hired them,” he said. “They felt like he was ready, and he’s been there. Part of the fun of this game is you do things how you want to do it, not like he thinks I would want him to do it.
“I think there’s a reason guys become managers, because they keep their eyes open a lot already, and you kind of take what you want in. You don’t need to sit and listen to somebody tell you how to do things.”
Cora played for Francona from 2005-08 and helped the Sox win the 2007 World Series.
“I was probably tougher on Cora than a lot of other guys because I expected him to be on time, to be where he’s supposed to be, because that’s the type of guy he was,” Francona said. “But he always paid attention.”
Francona is likely to have more to suggest to John Farrell, who was fired by the Red Sox after back-to-back American League East championships.
“It happens to most everybody. That wasn’t their fault,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the job.”
Free agent first baseman Carlos Santana has been a productive hitter for the Indians his entire career. But Francona saw a change in attitude in recent years.
“He could get kind of surly at times and get a little consumed with how he’s doing. And about the halfway mark of the last couple years, he’s a better teammate, better person,” Francona said.
“He turned himself into a very good first baseman. He’s hard not to like, lovable. You see him, before the games, come up and kiss me on the head, get handshakes with everybody. He’s a great kid.
“He’s going to be a great kid whether he’s in Cleveland or Boston or New York. I think he’s worked at it, and I think it’s really paid off.”
Fenster moves up
Darren Fenster, who has managed five seasons in the Red Sox organization, will be the next manager for Double A Portland, according to team sources. Fenster, 39, led Greenville to the South Atlantic League championship last season . . . Jackie Bradley Jr.’s agent, Scott Boras, said the Red Sox told him they have no intention to trade his client . . . The Red Sox inquired about Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a package of three prospects led by 22-year-old righthander Sandy Alcantara. “We have the DH spot open and we felt we could kind of slide guys around in that regard. But we were never close to a trade,” Dombrowski said. The Sox also considered lefty reliever Jake McGee, who was retained by the Rockies . . . Major League Baseball made 13 Atlanta Braves prospects free agents as part of the sanctions for rules violations with international players. The most notable of those players, shortstop Kevin Maitan, signed with the Angels for $2.2 million. The Sox have evaluated the players but not yet signed any.
Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report.