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Nunez tabbed for first big-league start

Nunez tabbed for first big-league start

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Don't remind right-hander Leo Nunez of his last outing for the Royals at Fenway Park. If he hasn't forgotten it, he probably should.

On Aug. 4, 2005, Nunez relieved in the fourth inning and immediately gave up a three-run double to Edgar Renteria. Later in the inning, he was slugged for a grand slam by Jason Varitek. Oh my. That was an eight-run inning and the Red Sox won, 11-9.

Now Nunez, just up from Omaha, is being given the first start of his Major League career at Fenway. He's been impressive in his return to a starting role in the Minors this season. In his last full season as a starter, for Class A Hickory (Pirates) in 2004, Nunez had a 10-4 record and a 3.06 ERA.

Manager Buddy Bell hopes to get at least five or six innings from Nunez, who got a late start this season due to an injury.

The Royals will have to contend with Tim Wakefield, the flutterball expert who is 3-0 in his last five starts against the Royals at Fenway. In his career against KC, he's 10-5.

Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Leo Nunez (2007 debut)
Nunez was summoned from Triple-A Omaha to take sore-backed John Thomson's spot in the rotation. A former reliever, Nunez appeared in 48 games for the Royals in 2005-06 with a 3-2 record and 6.99 ERA. His left wrist was broken by a line drive in Spring Training; he worked his way back this season through Wichita and Omaha as a starter. In his last start, he pitched five shutout innings against Round Rock. Nunez works his fastball in the 90-92-mph range and also throws a slider and a changeup.

BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (10-8, 4.47 ERA)
Wakefield was his usual self in his last start, winning his 10th game against the Blue Jays with a six-inning nine-hit effort. Fifteen years of knuckleball-heavy diets have done little to prepare hitters for subsequent at-bats against Boston's ageless wonder, who has a 3.66 ERA in 23 career appearances against Kansas City. "Wakey keeps guys off balance," Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew said. "He's definitely a guy that you don't want to face."

Player to watch
Perhaps Reggie Sanders should get his first start since coming off the DL. Against Wakefield, he's 4-for-12 (.333) and has the only home run among the Royals who have faced the knuckleballer.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• RSTN

On radio
• WHB

Up next
• Wednesday: Royals (Odalis Perez, 4-8, 5.68) at Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 5-7, 5.15), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Royals (Gil Meche, 6-6, 3.69) at Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 3-1, 2.82), 6:05 p.m. CT

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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