Don't get me wrong; I never didn't like the guy, exactly. He was a Twin, and I like all the Twins. Always have. I was a fan of Scott Stahoviak, for Pete's sake. So I never sat at home watching the Twins and wondering why Nick Punto was a Twin. I do confess that I recently spent a lot of time wondering why he was the club's starting 3B, however. And I always laughed a bit when the man that Bat-Girl calls "Little Nicky Punto" was mentioned as a possible starter anywhere on the field. He's a utility guy, I thought. The second coming of Denny Hocking or Jeff Reboulet.
I think it started to come to me while watching him take an extra base innumerable times, with that look of absolute ferocity on his face. Or maybe when he trotted out there night after night, completely unable to conceive of not playing because of an ache or pain.
No matter where it came from, though, I realized it full force tonight. The way he took care of Liriano on the mound (something any good infielder is going to do, but man, he did it with class). And the way that he, along with Mike Redmond, was right up on that top step when Josh Rabe got his first major league hit.
I don't care if he doesn't hit homeruns at the pace of Troy Glaus (or even Corey Koskie). I don't care that he keeps diving into first base on plays where it can't possibly make him faster to the bag. All I know is that this man needs to play for the Twins, as often as possible.
Count me in as a convert to the cult of Little Nicky Punto.