Nick Punto may not play a whole lot of shortstop for the Red Sox -- not until the current favorite, Mike Aviles, proves himself unworthy in the field, anyway. But the Red Sox apparently had other things on their minds when they brought in the tiny ex-Twin.

It's the good-influence-in-the-clubhouse thing.

After the 2011 meltdown of fried chicken-and-beer in the clubhouse during games, which surely had as much to do with the Red Sox' collapse as the poor play of pricey free agent Carl Crawford (.289 on-base percentage) and an injury-pocked starting rotation, the Red Sox apparently decided they needed a good clubhouse guy.

Enter Punto, the guy who turned some Twins fans into puddles of mush because of his scrappiness and others into raving maniacs because of his head-first slides into first base and 220-foot fly balls. He's even inherited the No. 5 worn by former Red Sox mainstay Nomar Garciaparra.

Under a story headlined "Nick Punto alters culture," the Boston Herald reports: "Punto’s reputation as a hard-nosed competitor and positive clubhouse presence was valuable to a team poisoned last season by chemistry issues. It’s easy to see past his .249 lifetime average."

Here's the rest of the story, which includes a cameo by Jason Repko, who is also trying for a utility spot in the Red Sox outfield.

And how did we ever miss the Minnesota Sports Band's Nick Punto Song?




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