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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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Nick Punto will be the first Red Sox shortstop to wear No. 5 since Nomar Garciaparra. (AP)

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.

“I want to call him, thank him and tell him how honored I am to wear it,” said Punto of Garciaparra. “He 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.

“It’s pretty cool. I was excited,” Punto added. “I 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.

“If 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.

“That’s not typical, but, you know what, it’s Bobby Valentine,” he said. “He 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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