Daily Dodger in Review: Nick Punto, the little player who could
NICK PUNTO, 36, infielder
Final 2013 stats: .255 batting average, .328 on-base and .327 slugging percentages, 3,267 head-first slides into first base.
Contract status: A free agent, he signed with the A’s for one year at $2.75 million, with a vesting option for another $2.75 million in 2015. Not bad for a guy who made $1.5 million last season at age 35.
The good: The switch-hitter batted .309 against left-handers. Hit .400 in April and .302 in August. Third time he faced the same pitcher in a game, he batted .362.
Seemed to surprise Manager Don Mattingly with his play at shortstop, going from almost his last option to the primary backup to Hanley Ramirez. In 33 games at short, he committed only three errors. Also played second and third. Easily team’s finest jersey shredder.
He was your basic scrappy, hard-nosed player who went full bore and played with the enthusiasm of a youngster. He ran hard, dove for balls, was just generally fun to watch. Teamed with his buddy Skip Schumaker to give the Dodgers a pair of well-liked veterans who were positive clubhouse influences.
The bad: Tended to wear down if played too much. Had a 42-game stretch from the end of May to the end of July where he hit .147 (16 for 109). With two outs and runners in scoring position, batted .134 (four for 29).
What’s next: Diving for first base with the A’s.
The take: The Dodgers are going to miss him and Schumaker, and at the moment have replaced neither of the utility players. If you can be something of a surprise in your 11th major-league season, Punto was.
Played so well for awhile, people started calling the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Punto over from the Red Sox last season, the Nick Punto trade.
Also, with the 5-9 Punto off to the A’s, 5-10 catcher Tim Federowicz becomes the shortest Dodger.
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