A.J. Pierzynski says he wanted to finish career with White Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org December 26, 2012 3:50PM
Updated: January 28, 2013 3:53PM
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski always will hold a special place in the hearts of White Sox fans — but in none more than chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s.
General manager Rick Hahn compared Pierzynski’s departure, which became official when he ended an eight-year run with the Sox by signing a reported one-year,
$7.5 million contract Wednesday with the Texas Rangers, to the Bears’ Wilber Marshall and the Bulls’ Horace Grant leaving in free agency.
It was significant enough to warrant Reinsdorf issuing a statement about Pierzynski, whose run on the South Side began with the 2005 World Series championship team. Captain Paul Konerko is the only player on that team who remains.
‘‘A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise,’’ Reinsdorf said. ‘‘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.’’
The 2005 team is dear to Reins-
dorf. So is Pierzynski, who will turn 36 next week. They met after the season, but Reinsdorf is trusting Hahn’s decision to give catcher Tyler Flowers, who is nine years younger, a shot at the job. Money was also a factor.
Hahn said the decision not to pursue bringing Pierzynski back was based on the Sox’ faith in Flowers and on prioritizing needs.
‘‘We felt we had more pressing needs that need to be addressed,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We wanted our pitching staff to be one of our strengths, so we felt we had to bring Jake Peavy back [two years, $29 million].’’
Pierzynski said he wanted to finish his career with the Sox, but talks 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. ‘‘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 dis-
appointed? 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 [in Chicago] nothing but the best.’’
Reinsdorf’s statement also said: ‘‘A.J. 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’ . . . A.J. was a key contributor, often in his own very unique way.’’
Pierzynski will return to the South Side for a three-game series Aug. 23-25, but he’ll return to Chicago much sooner. The Rangers play the Cubs on April 16-18 at Wrigley Field, where he often was greeted with boos.