Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The irrepressible Nick Punto

It begins to look as if Nick Punto, not Danny Valencia,
is the ex-Twin Bobby Valentine trusts at third base.
The Twins early this month traded Danny Valencia to Boston in a waiver deal. The Red Sox, with rookie Will Middlebrooks installed at third base, sent Valencia to Triple A Pawtucket.

He didn't stay there long. Middlebrooks broke his wrist, and Valencia was recalled. He made his Red Sox debut on Aug. 11 as a substitute. He started on Aug. 12; the 13th was an off day; he started again on the 14th.

And since then, almost nothing; indeed, Valencia made just one more appearance before being sent back to Pawtucket on Tuesday. Four games, nine plate appearances, one hit.

Know who's been playing third base for the Red Sox for the past week as they desperately try to resuscitate their playoff hopes? Nick Punto.

Yes indeed, the king of the headfirst slide, the longtime bane of the Twins Internet community, started four of the five games since the 14th (through Monday; he wasn't in the lineup Tuesday evening).

Will this last? I don't know, but I still find this intriguing.

Ron Gardenhire, Tony LaRussa, now Bobby Valentine. Three managers of some repute and accomplishment, and each, with a season in the balance, has at least once stuck Punto in his infield. Gardenhire, of course, did so at three different positions; LaRussa relied on Punto at second base during St. Louis' surprising run to the World Series title last October; and now Valentine seems intent on using the veteran at the hot corner.

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