Monday, September 17, 2007

Punto's Got a Job

Nick Punto is in tonight’s lineup against the Rangers, and he’s going to be in a lot of lineups next year, too, if his manager has his way. Despite Punto’s disastrous .205 season at the plate, Ron Gardenhire all but handed Punto the second base job on the 2008 Twins.

Punto is the best fielder on the team, Gardenhire said, and while he agrees that Punto doesn’t hit well enough to play third, traditionally a power position, he definitely wants Punto on the field. It’s probably safe to assume that Alexi Casilla’s two-month tryout with the Twins has convinced Gardenhire that the rookie needs another season in Rochester.

For his part, Punto said he plans to work harder this winter than ever before, to make sure there’s no repeat of this horrible season at the plate. And he seemed awfully thankful for Gardenhire’s unwavering support.

One other note: Left-hander Kason Gabbard has been scratched from Wednesday’s start for the Rangers. Vicente Padilla, who ignited a brawl with the A’s on Sunday, will fill that slot.

Tonight’s lineups:

Catalanotto dh
Murphy cf
Young ss
Byrd rf
Botts lf
Wilkerson 1b
Quiroz c
Vazquez 2b
Metcalf 3b

Volquez p

Bartlett ss
Kubel dh
Mauer c
Hunter cf
Morneau 1b
Cuddyer rf
Jones lf
Buscher 3b
Punto 2b
Slowey p