Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Pierzynski looks forward to new challenge

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A.J. Pierzynski said he wanted to finish his career on the South Side but talks with the White Sox never got serious while he was a free agent.

"It was really one of those things that just never seemed like it was going to work out," Pierzynski said on a conference call Wednesday after the Texas Rangers announced his one-year deal with the team. "It just seemed like they made some calls but it never got to the point where it was, 'Hey, let's move on something.'

"At the same time, am I disappointed? Any time you've been eight years in a place, you'd love to go back and I'd like to have finished my career there. But I'm excited and looking forward to a new place and a new challenge. I wish those guys [White Sox] nothing but the best. The organization, you know how I feel about Chicago and the fans there. It seemed like it was time for both sides and I'm sad about that but at the same time I'm excited because it's something new."

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Pierzynski after the season, in which the left-handed hitting catcher hit a career high 27 homers while matching his career high of 77 RBI. His Sox career began in 2005, the team's World Series winning season, and he became a favorite of Reinsdorf and the Sox fan base. Only Paul Konerko remains from the 2005 team.

Reinsdorf issued a statement about Pierzynski on Wednesday afternoon:

"A.J. Pierzynski played a major role in many of the greatest moments in recent Chicago White Sox history. From reaching first base in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, to his double in Game 3 of the World Series in Houston, to his performance behind the plate during the 2008 "Blackout Game" division-winning 1-0 victory, A.J. was a key contributor, often in his own very unique way.

"Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago. A.J. epitomized Chicago's South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game. He came to compete - and to win - every day.

"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."

With Texas, Pierzynski will play for an AL West contender. He will catch and be used as a designated hitter. The Rangers needed a left-handed bat after losing Josh Hamilton in free agency.

"It's been a long time since I changed teams," Pierzynski said. "I'm looking forward to the first day of spring training and even the Fan Fest to get to know some of these guys. I can't wait to know them a lot better.

"To walk into the clubhouse for the first time and meet new people, I'm looking forward to it. It definitely puts a pep in your step and changes things."

Pierzynski, an agitator and feisty competitor who was cheered loudly at U.S. Cellular Field and booed almost everywhere else during his eight years in Chicago, was asked a lot of questions about his personality by Rangers media.

"The only thing they need to know about me as a person is that I want to win," Pierzynski said. "Whatever is said or been written, you can't change that. You can't make people change what they've said or what they've done. All I can do is play as hard as I can. I take pride in giving it everything I have every day.''

As for his reputation and being voted baseball's "most hated player" by other players, Pierzynski said, "Of course I'm tired of it. We're still going back to it. I get tired of talking about things I have no control over. I wish I could make it go away but it doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.''

He was also asked about being left off the All-Star team by Rangers manager Ron Washington. The subject came up when Pierzynski had lunch with Rangers officials last week, and in typical fashion, Pierzynski cracked a joke about it.

"It was over as soon as it happened,'' he said. "You're disappointed as a player because you want to go to the All-Star Game and be honored that way. But when it was over, it was over."

"I know [Washington] was in a tough spot. It wouldn't change how I feel about Ron Washington because I know what he's done in this game and where he stands. I'm over it and hopefully we can move on from that also."

Washington said of Pierzynski, "I always believed he did anything and everything he had to do to try to beat you.''

Pierzynski, who turns 36 next week, will be the Rangers No. 1 catcher ahead of Geovany Soto. The Rangers will pay him $7.5 million

"He's a winning guy," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "There just aren't that many catchers in the league that go out there and play every day. It is a demanding position and that says a lot about him being ready to go."


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This page contains a single entry by Daryl Van Schouwen published on December 26, 2012 2:25 PM.

La Russa will attend Sox Fest was the previous entry in this blog.

Reinsdorf statement on A.J. Pierzynski is the next entry in this blog.

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