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Off Day News: Gardenhire says Punto "in the mix" for Clean-Up Spot in '08

Posted at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2007 by David Zingler

MINNEAPOLIS – Not only does struggling infielder Nick Punto have the inside track to man second base when the Twins open the 2008 season, he’s also being considered to anchor their line-up as the No. 4 hitter.

“Nicky is a warrior,” manager Ron Gardenhire explained. “He’ll be in the mix with Morny, Cuddy and Torii – if he’s still here – for the clean-up spot next season. Right now he might only have warning track power, but he plans on lifting weights and taking anything legal that he can get his hands on to muscle up. Nobody works harder than Nicky.”

“I may only have 1 homer this year, but people forget how close I’ve come to having a lot more,” the 5-9, 170 lb. Punto pointed out. “Add another 10-15 feet to a lot of my fly balls and I might have 15-20 bombs.”

Most of Punto’s teammates seemed surprised about the manager’s comments, but were reluctant to weigh in. Torii Hunter meanwhile, began giggling uncontrollably at the suggestion.

“A lot of people may not like my decisions,” Gardenhire continued. “But last time I checked, they don’t occupy the manager’s office. I’d take 25 Nicky Puntos if I could.”

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