Sox hopeful to have Nunez back for playoffs

Sox hopeful to have Nunez back for playoffs

BOSTON -- Though it's doubtful Eduardo Nunez will play in any of the final three games of the regular season, the Red Sox are hopeful he will be ready for the start of the postseason.

If the Red Sox win the American League East -- their magic number was one going into Friday's game -- they would open the AL Division Series presented by Doosan on Thursday on the road, giving Nunez more time to strengthen the right knee that has limited him to one game since Sept. 9.

"He's moving in that direction," said Red Sox manager John Farrell about the possibility of Nunez returning for the start of the playoffs. "We'll put together some simulated action Monday or Tuesday in workouts here so that's not a concern as far as whether or not he's available next week."

Nunez had a strong work day on Friday.

"He hit on the field, took 25 ground balls at second base, did approximately six 40-yard sprints in the outfield, which was probably the most intense he's run since some of the baserunning in Cincinnati," said Farrell. "So a major step forward with the overall work but still not game ready."

Baserunning will be a key hurdle for Nunez to clear before he can play again.

"That will be built into his BP on Sunday when he hits live on the field here," said Farrell. "We'll incorporate that coming out of the box and simulate as much as possible."

Will Nunez be ready to play defense for the start of the playoffs?

"That's the goal right now," Farrell said. "But there's still some steps we're working through physically to get him there."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.