Red Sox: Eduardo Nunez out at least another week with knee sprain

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 30: Eduardo Nunez
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 30: Eduardo Nunez /

Boston Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez is expected to miss at least a week with a sprained knee, depriving the lineup of one of their hottest hitters.

The Boston Red Sox will be without one of the top hitters in their lineup for the foreseeable future. The team revealed on Tuesday that infielder Eduardo Nunez is dealing with a sprained knee that will sideline him for at least a week.

Nunez banged his knee sliding into second base on a successful steal attempt in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He initially remained in the game, only to be taken out after hobbling down the first base line to beat out an infield single in his next plate appearance. He missed the next game with what was believed to be only a bruise, which we now know wasn’t the extent of the injury.

Manager John Farrell confirmed that the injury isn’t to the MCL or ACL, which would signify a more significant issue that could require surgery. Nunez is attempting to strengthen the knee through exercises and will be re-evaluated in a week. Farrell stated it’s “too early to tell” if Nunez will be available before the end of the season, which could put his spot on the playoff roster in jeopardy.

More from Red Sox News

The loss of the versatile infielder is significant. Nunez has been a sparkplug for the Red Sox since he was acquired in July from the San Francisco Giants. He’s hitting .319 with 8 home runs and 27 RBI over 37 games with Boston. It’s a fairly limited sample but his .885 OPS with the Red Sox leads the team.

Nunez was originally acquired to fill the void a third base but the emergence of Rafael Devers negated the need for him at that position. Nunez filled in at second base while Dustin Pedroia was sidelined, but with Pedey back in the lineup, there isn’t an everyday spot for them there either. It seemed the plan was to use Nunez to give the struggling Xander Bogaerts some time off but that plan is now out the window.

Pedroia, Devers and Bogaerts are all in Tuesday night’s lineup against left-hander Sean Manaea. The Red Sox are also using both Hanley Ramirez and Chris Young, despite that those two have been the worst hitters on the team against lefties.

Andrew Benintendi gets the night off, which explains how there’s room for Hanley and CY on a night when Sam Travis is taking over the right-handed half of the first base platoon. Benny could use a breather since he’s been scuffling a bit this month and also hasn’t faired well against lefties. That’s still no excuse for using Ramirez and Young, which Farrell doubled-down on by putting them in the top half of the order. We have to assume a healthy Nunez would have helped avoid that lineup disaster.

Next: Red Sox players in danger of missing postseason roster

It remains to be seen if Nunez will make it back in time for the postseason. If not, it’s possible we’ve already seen the last of the impending free agent in a Red Sox uniform. Nunez deserves a fair amount of credit for helping the Red Sox surge to the top of the division and into the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. If this knee injury keeps him out into October, Boston may not last long in the postseason without him.