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Nick Punto

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Nicholas Paul Punto (born November 8, 1977) is an American professional baseball utility player with the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. He has played second base, third base, shortstop, and center field with several teams. Punto is a switch hitter and throws right-handed.

Punto is a 1996 graduate of Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo, California. After high school, he attended Saddleback College, also in Mission Viejo. His father, Lou, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. Nick and his wife, Natalie have two children, Nicole Jayne born on May 30, 2008 and a son, Nash.

CareerEdit

Philadelphia PhilliesEdit

Punto was drafted in the 21st round of the 1998 MLB Draft and made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies on September 9, 2001.

Minnesota TwinsEdit

After playing in a career-high 64 major-league games in 2003, he was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the 2004 offseason (along with Carlos Silva) for Eric Milton. He started the season with the team, but he was injured twice and spent the majority of his time in 2004 on the disabled list. In 2005, he competed for the starting job at second base, which he eventually won, and in 2006 became the starting third baseman.

Punto was one of four Twins players nicknamed "The Piranhas" by White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillén. [citation needed] The other Piranhas were Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett, and Luis Castillo. His Twins teammates called him "The Human Highlight Reel", in reference to his defensive prowess. [citation needed]

In 2005 Nick Punto batted .239, with a career high 4 home runs, and 26 runs batted in over the duration of 112 games.

Punto had his best full season in Minnesota during the 2006 season when he batted .290 with 45 runs batted in, and posted 17 stolen bases in 135 games.

File:Nick Punto.jpg

In 2007, Punto experienced his statistically worst full season with Minnesota, batting .210 with 25 runs batted in in 150 games. He posted the lowest slugging percentage (.271) of any major league player with at least 200 at-bats in a single season. This was the lowest slugging percentage by a player with over 400 at-bats since José Lind recorded a .269 slugging percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. Punto also posted a −27.1 VORP in 2007, 8.5 runs worse than the second-worst position player in baseball, White Sox infielder Andy González. However, he has always played excellent defense and believed in his defensive abilities which the Twins are so keen on. On May 27 during an MPR broadcast Punto said, "I take too much pride in my defense to ever let (offensive struggles) affect me or affect my team. The one thing I can control is how I play defense."

Punto also became famous for his renowned "Punto Slush," over the course of the 2007 season. Then-reigning American League MVP Justin Morneau made a habit of eating the same meal before a game, which included a turkey sandwich and a Mountain Dew slush made by Nick Punto. [citation needed]

After being injured most of the first half of the 2008 season, Punto was activated from the DL on June 25, 2008 and finished the season batting .284 with 28 runs batted in.[1] Punto spent most of the 2008 season as the Twins' primary shortstop.[2]

Punto signed a new two-year deal with the Twins worth $8.5 million following the 2008 season, with a club option for 2011 worth $5 million.[3]

Punto represented Team Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

After struggling as the Twins regular shortstop in 2009, Punto began losing time in the lineup to fellow Twin Brendan Harris. After returning from the disabled list, Punto was re-inserted into the regular lineup at second base, following the struggles of infielders Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert. He finished the season batting .228 with 38 RBI over 440 plate appearances.

Punto began the 2010 season as the Twins' starting third baseman, but ended up on the disabled list before the end of April with a strained groin muscle. Punto returned to the lineup in May, playing at third base, shortstop, and second base as injuries cropped up among other players. In July, he was essentially replaced as the starter at third base by Danny Valencia, but he continued to play regularly due to injuries to Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy.

On July 30, the Twins placed Punto on the disabled list again due to a strained hamstring. Through the end of July, Punto had appeared in 80 games, hitting .251 with a .642 OPS.[4]

On October 29, the Twins declined Punto's $5 million team option, making him a free agent.

St. Louis CardinalsEdit

On January 21, 2011 Punto signed a one year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals worth 1 million.

Boston Red SoxEdit

On December 14, 2011, Punto agreed to a 2 year contract with the Boston Red Sox worth 4 million.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Twins activate INF Punto from DL. International Herald Tribune (March 29, 2009). Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved on October 9, 2011.
  2. By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com. Punto's return puts infield back on track. Minnesota.twins.mlb.com. Retrieved on October 9, 2011.
  3. Twins agree to terms with Nick Punto on two-year contract. Minnesota.twins.mlb.com (August 26, 2011). Retrieved on October 9, 2011.
  4. Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on October 9, 2011.

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