Sox looking for win, Valentine shakes up lineup

Sox looking for win, Valentine shakes up lineup
April 8, 2012, 3:51 pm
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DETROIT -- After two losses and just two runs scored in the first 18 innings, it was perhaps expected that manager Bobby Valentine would shake up his lineup.

And so he did Sunday, inserting Nick Punto into the leadoff spot for the day, replacing Kevin Youkilis (hitless) at third base.

Valentine also gave starts to catcher Kelly Shoppach and outfielder Darnell McDonald.

"We're getting some guys their first starts of the year,'' said Valentine, "and I think we'll be able to score some runs with it -- hope so.''

Valentine said he planned to mix up the lineup some and get playing time for the reserves even before the lineup sputtered in the first two games.

Punto is a .169 career hitter in the leadoff spot, but that didn't seem to dissuade Valentine when he made up the lineup card.

"I think he's probably going to hit .260 in the leadoff spot,'' said Valentine, "so he's got a lot of hits coming up. I don't think that has anything to do with it. Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with it.''

Valentine said he chose Punto to hit leadoff "just to see what it looks like, see if it gives us a spark. He's a sparking kind of player who battles every at-bat.''

McDonald, meanwhile, replaces Cody Ross in the lineup even though Detroit is starting righthander Max Scherzer and McDonald only started against three righties last season.

"Most of his at-bats in the spring were against righthanders,'' explained Valentine. "If he's ever ready to start against a righthander, it's now.''