Punto had long been in the Red Sox' sights


Punto had long been in the Red Sox' sights

BOSTON Shortly after sending infielder Jed Lowrie, with right-hander Kyle Weiland, to Houston for right-hander Mark Melancon on Wednesday, the Red Sox signed free agent infielder Nick Punto to a two-year contract, reportedly for 3 million plus incentives.

But, Punto had been in the Sox' sites well before then.

Nicks a guy weve had interest in in the past and the timing has never quite worked out to get him here, said Sox general manager Ben Cherington. But hes a guy that plays really good defense, a smart baseball player, puts together a good at-bat. Is really good in the clubhouse. Is just a smart, smart baseball player and I think understands his role on a winning team. Certainly showed that this year down the stretch and in October in St. Louis.

So, when the Lowrie, Weiland, and Melancon deal was coming together, and really even before that, he was a guy that we had targeted as a guy that wed like to bring into the team and then certainly when things sped up with the Houston trade, we sped up our efforts to go get him. And we think he fits well into our team, into our mix in the clubhouse, and can do a lot of things for us.

Punto, who turned 34 last month, has played parts of 11 seasons for the Phillies (three seasons), Twins (seven), and last season for the Cardinals, when he hit .278 with one home run, 20 RBI, a .388 on-base percentage, and .421 slugging percentage over 63 games and 166 plate appearances. He played second base (45 games), shortstop (eight games), and third base (seven) for the Cardinals last season. He also has 11 career games in the outfield, but none since 2008 while with Minnesota.

He is a career .249 hitter, with a .325 OBP, .327 SLG, 14 home runs, and 218 RBI.

Its a good pick-up for them, said a major league scout. Puntos a good defensive player. He can play around the infield. He plays hard.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."

Quick Slants the Podcast: Who's been better for the Patriots, Welker or Edelman?

Quick Slants the Podcast: Who's been better for the Patriots, Welker or Edelman?

Phil Perry and CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran debate which receiver has been better for the Patriots: Wes Welker or Julian Edelman? It's part of this edition of Quick Slants The Podcast.