Red Sox optimistic Eduardo Nunez will be available for ALDS vs. Astros

BOSTON -- Last year, Eduardo Nunez was pushed into a postseason pinch-hitting role for the San Francisco Giants because of a late-season injury.

The Boston Red Sox don't believe that will be the case this season.

Although his role has yet to be defined for the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, both Nunez and manager John Farrell are optimistic the versatile infielder will be included on the postseason roster despite a right knee injury that has sidelined him for all but five innings since Sept. 9.

"Everything points to him being available in the series," Farrell said Tuesday.

Nunez got six at-bats Monday in a simulated game against left-hander Roenis Elias and ran the bases with greater intensity. He went through additional drills -- including sliding -- during the Red Sox's workout Tuesday at Fenway Park.

"That was the biggest thing -- swinging and getting out of the box," Nunez said. "I don't feel anything at this time."

Nunez sprained the posterior collateral ligament in his right knee Sept. 9. He attempted to return Sept. 25, but he aggravated the injury on a swing and missed the season's final six games. Farrell said Nunez has been fitted for a "more substantial brace" that has created more stability for his knee.

"I think it's translated into some confidence," Farrell said. "The position he got himself in when he reaggravated it with that swing, he feels like he's in a better place to transfer that energy from his feet in the ground through the rotation of the swing and begin to break toward first."

It's possible Nunez could start at third base in Game 2 against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, according to Farrell. It is notable, however, that lefty-swinging rookie Rafael Devers batted .319 (15-for-47) against lefties after being called up from Triple-A in late July.

Nunez also could be used at second base should Dustin Pedroia need extra rest between games. Pedroia has been dealing with inflammation and soreness in his surgically repaired left knee and was given periodic rest throughout September after coming off the disabled list.

Pedroia has started at second base more than three days in a row only once since July.

The Red Sox also named Drew Pomeranz as their Game 2 starter, following ace lefty Chris Sale in Game 1. Pomeranz went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and gave up one run in six innings last Saturday against the Astros at Fenway Park.

Farrell said the Red Sox have not yet decided on starting pitchers for Game 3 or 4. The choices will come down to Rick Porcello, Doug Fister and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez.