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.''
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BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena with little more than a handful of B’s players skating, but the most important player to Boston success, Tuukka Rask, was taking part after missing practice on Monday.
Rask missed Monday’s practice session while getting checked out medically following his exit from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to vision issues. He said on Tuesday that it was all related to migraines that have cropped up a couple of times in his NHL career. The Bruins No. 1 netminder also said he was good to play on Tuesday night against the Red Wings with just a couple of home games left until this weekend’s All-Star break.
That was the kind of good news embattled coach Claude Julien was looking for as Boston looks to end its season-worst, four-game losing streak.
“We’ve got good news so far, so that’s nice to see,” Julien said of Rask, who has started 13 of Boston’s past 14 games dating to a Dec. 27 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Obviously it was because of the migraines, so hopefully we won’t see much more of that.”
In other Black and Gold health news, both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller have been cleared to play, and are expected to rejoin the B’s lineup with John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow headed for healthy scratches. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings as the Red Wings arrive for a divisional tilt after a shootout loss for Boston last week at Joe Louis Arena:
K. Miller-C. Miller