Punto leads off as Valentine shuffles lineup

Punto leads off as Valentine shuffles lineup

DETROIT -- After scoring a total of two runs in the first two games, both losses, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine shuffled his lineup on Sunday afternoon for the finale of a three-game series vs. the Tigers.

There were three reinforcements -- Nick Punto in at third, Darnell McDonald in left and Kelly Shoppach behind the plate -- all making their first starts.

But there were also some interesting slot adjustments. With Punto inserted into the leadoff spot, Jacoby Ellsbury moved to second. Dustin Pedroia (third), Adrian Gonzalez (cleanup) and David Ortiz (fifth) also moved down one spot from where they were in the first two games.

Despite what it might look like on the outside, Valentine said the lineup was in no way an over-reaction to the events of the first two games.

"No, no, it was kind of a planned routine," Valentine said. "Today we're getting some guys their first starts of the year. I think we'll be able to score some runs with it. I hope so. I was trying to get everyone a start and I didn't want to do it right after the first game. Now everyone [from the bench] will have a start."

Kevin Youkilis and Cody Ross, who both went hitless in the first two games, got a respite. So, too, did catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Why Punto in the leadoff spot?

"Just want to see what it looks like," Valentine said. "See if it gives us a little spark. He's a sparking kind of player who battles every at-bat."

It was also a chance to get McDonald a start, coming off his red-hot Spring Training.

While McDonald figures to get most of his starts against lefties, Sunday's game was against righty Max Scherzer.

"Most of those at-bats in the spring were against right-handers, so I figure if he's ever ready to start against a right-hander, it's now," Valentine said.