Punto, 33, was the Twins' opening day third baseman last season, but played only 48 games there because of injuries and a .238 batting average. The switch-hitter has made a career out of playing different infield positions, but the Indians talked to his agent Tuesday about giving him everyday at-bats at third.
Hello, (MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM)! So, your offseason plans have led you to contemplate signing Nick Punto. Congratulations on (LARGE MARKET TEAM: looking to add veteran depth/SMALL MARKET TEAM: giving up on 2011 in 2010)! Here is a pocket guide to the care and handling of your brand new Nick Punto.
ACCESSORIES: Nick Punto comes pre-equipped with hustle, grit, want-to, get-after-it-ness, pluck, scrappiness and heart! However, the owner is expected to provide copious amounts of eye black, sunflower seeds, and a mint-condition Trans Am from the late-'70s/early-'80s, painted candy apple red to match his satin "LNP" (Little Nicky Punto, for those unfamiliar) jacket. If you can get it detailed with "GET MONEY GET PAID LNP" on the back window, all the better.
HOW TO OPERATE: we recommend plugging him into one of your middle infield spots, or third base if you find offensive production from that position to be unfair to the opposing team. He will provide you with at least five (5) Web Gems per 162 games played on Baseball Tonight. He will hurt himself during four (4) of these plays.
WHERE TO PUT HIM IN YOUR BATTING ORDER: ninth (9th). Exceptions: you are a National League team that doesn't employ Mike Hampton; you are Ron Gardenhire sometimes.
FOOD: much like Wade Boggs' habit of eating fried chicken before every game, Punto indulges in his own pre-game meal of cooked asparagus. The strong smell it gives his urine helps him, quote, "piss moxie," unquote.
DRINK: 5-Hour Energy and nothing but. He bathes in that stuff, then splashes on some Hai Karate or Canoe and calls it good.
INTANGIBLES: you may notice a tendency for him to slide headfirst into things. This is not unusual, and although it's not to be encouraged, there's really nothing you can do about it. Our advice is to try to make a game out of it. For example: if you know someone who runs a local bowling alley who'll "look the other way," you'll be surprised how much fun a couple frames of Punto Bowling can be.
RETURN POLICY: much like all other MLB contracts, once the physical is passed and the contract is signed, he's yours. HOWEVER, if you notice that he's just a little less versatile, a little worse at the plate, and not quite as adept in the field, you may have acquired Matt Tolbert by accident. Please get in touch with Bill Smith, 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, MN 55403. Have your receipts handy, and you will be expected to go Dutch on postage and handling.