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Meet the next Red Sox shortstop to wear No. 5

02.23.12 at 10:02 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ He is the next Red Sox shortstop to wear No. 5. But such an honor wasn’€™t taken lightly by Nick Punto.

The new Sox infielder chose No. 5 to wear with his new team, but only after traveling secretary Jack McCormick made a call to the last shorstop to wear the digit ‘€“ Nomar Garciaparra ‘€“ for approval.

‘€œI want to call him, thank him and tell him how honored I am to wear it,’€ said Punto of Garciaparra. ‘€œHe taught me a lot as a young player when we were working out at [Athletes Performance]. I just always looked up to him as a person and a player. I’€™m honored.’€

(It should be noted that one player, Rocco Baldelli, has worn No. 5 since Garciaparra left in ’04.)

Punto had first started wearing the number in honor of George Brett as a kid before being derailed after Double-A, leading to a big league identification of No. 8.

‘€œIt’€™s pretty cool. I was excited,’€ Punto added. ‘€œI didn’€™t know how that was going to be. I knew I wasn’€™t going to be [Carl Yastrzemski], so I had to change it up and, I was a single-digit guy.’€

The first chance Punto had to wear his new number, and new uniform, came Wednesday when he went out to field grounders with Jose Iglesias.

One moment of note: On one slow-roller, Punto charged and casually flipped the ball, on the run, to second base, sailing it over the fielder’€™s head. Immediately a voice bellowed from the nearby dugout.

‘€œIf you turn your foot a little bit more that doesn’€™t happen. You know that Nick.’€

The words came from manager Bobby Valentine, a good 50 yards away, and offered a reminder what was waiting for Punto in the coming season.

‘€œThat’s not typical, but, you know what, it’s Bobby Valentine,’€ he said. ‘€œHe knows what he’s talking about. And what he’s yelling about was right on. I knew what I did. It was spot-on and for him to pick that up at that speed, wow. For me, that was the moment I knew Bobby knows his stuff.’€

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