Sox answer Punto's breakout with silence
June, 2, 2012
By Mark Polishuk | ESPNBoston.com
TORONTO -- The dugout silent treatment following a home run is usually saved for rookies rather than 12-year veterans, yet after Nick Punto smashed a solo homer to the Rogers Centre's second deck in the ninth inning, he was greeted with no reaction in the Red Sox dugout.
Tom Szczerbowski/US PresswireNick Punto celebrates his first homer with Boston.
"The good old silent treatment. It was fun," Punto said. "I said 'Come give me some love. I've been playing this game a while but that's only my 15th home run, so come give me some love.'"
After a few seconds of playing along, Punto's teammates indeed showed that love, happily celebrating Punto's first homer of both the season and as a Red Sox player. Punto had done plenty to deserve such a reaction, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in Boston's 7-4 win over the Blue Jays.
It was a rare offensive burst from the career .246 hitter; the Red Sox signed Punto not for his bat but for his versatility. His ability to play all over the infield has been a valuable asset to the team given the number of injuries faced by the Sox this season. Punto has started Boston's past five games at second base in place of Dustin Pedroia, who may yet still face a DL stint due to a torn muscle in his right thumb.
Punto said it has been difficult for him to adjust to the reduced playing time given that he had been a starter in Minnesota and got regular action last season as a backup for the Cardinals thanks to the ever-shifting nature of National League lineups. Yet, Punto is happy with his role and his opportunities to help the Sox whenever he can.
"It felt great," Punto said. "We're playing good baseball and for me to get in there and contribute a little bit felt great."