We all know the story of Sundays stunning, heartbreaking, down right ugly Red Sox loss, so I’m not gonna go there. Instead I’m gonna praise one of the bright spots in the game–surprise leadoff hitter Nick Punto.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox were in dire need of some sort of spark on Sunday after being shut down by Justin Verlander in the season opener and then being shutout in game 2 by a combination of Doug Fister and the Tigers bullpen. With that in mind Bobby Valentine made a surprising shake up and inserting Nick Punto into the leadoff spot–which was questioned by many before the game started, including myself. Just goes to show why I write and he manages.
It seemed logical to question the move, after all Punto had a career batting average of .169 in the leadoff spot-which I was reminded of several times while listening to WEEI Sunday morning-but the veteran infielder displayed something that the rest of the Sox hadn’t yet. A desire to get on base at any cost–including sliding head first into first base on separate occasions, the first time coming in the fifth inning with the score tied at 7.
That kind of intensity is something we don’t see often from this group. At times they look like they’re being forced out there to play baseball. I got a different vibe from Nick Punto, he looked like he was out there to help his team win a game-as hard as that is to fathom right now.
This team needs someone like Punto leading by example. The Red Sox have turned into a stale group and that’s something Bobby Valentine can’t change-the players themselves have to step up to the task. I know it’s hard to gain momentum when your pitcher can’t hold a lead but take some chances, make it look like you’re earning those fat pay checks, for Christ sake do SOMETHING to help this team get going.