FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It usually doesn't take long to determine if Eduardo Nunez is in the Red Sox clubhouse.
Gregarious by nature and fun-loving, Nunez's high-pitch cackle can often be heard above the din as players prepare for games or engage in spirited card games or conversations with one another.
But last year, it became harder for Nunez to enjoy himself. A lingering right knee injury from the previous year had healed enough to pass muster with the Red Sox, who signed him to a unique deal in spring training, but not enough, it turned out, for him to be himself on the field.
And so, as sheepish as it may now feel for him to reveal, there were days when the infielder reported to the ballpark with a sense of dread. As a career utility player unaccustomed to everyday status, the chance to play nearly every day should have been welcomed.
Not last year, however. Not with his knee aching, his plate approach compromised and his defensive range all but eliminated.