FORT MYERS, Fla. – No matter what kind of numbers shortstop Nick Punto puts up for the Boston Red Sox this season, none will be bigger than the one on his back.

Punto is wearing No. 5 this season, which carries a lot of weight in Red Sox lore. It’s the number that fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra wore at shortstop for the Red Sox for nine years. Garciaparra was a five-time All-Star and the AL Rookie of the Year in 1997.

Punto, who signed a two-year, $3 million deal with Boston this winter after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals last season, is a student of the game, so the significance was not lost on him.

That’s why he reached out to Garciaparra last week.

“I’m honored to be wearing Nomar’s number,” Punto said. “I talked to him a while the other day just to tell him how honored I am to wear his number. He appreciated the call.”

Outfielder Rocco Baldelli wore No. 5 for Boston in 2009, making him and Punto the only two players to wear it since Garciaparra was traded during the 2004 season.

Punto got to know Garciaparra when the two worked out at the same training facility in the winter years ago, and the two hit it off despite being completely different infielders.

Garciaparra won two AL batting titles in 1999 and 2000 and topped 20 homers and 90 RBI seven times for the Red Sox.

Punto is a defensive scrapper who can play all over the diamond. But with so many other big boppers in their lineup now, the need for offensive production at shortstop isn’t as big of a priority.