A.J. Pierzynski goes 3-for-4 in first game with Cardinals
BY TONI GINNETTI For Sun-Times Media July 26, 2014 10:18PM
Cards starting pitcher Shelby Miller huddles with new teammate A.J. Pierzynski on the mound in the sixth inning. | David Banks/Getty Images
Updated: August 28, 2014 7:01AM
A.J. Pierzynski and his family planned a weekend in Cooperstown, New York, as guests of former White Sox teammate Frank Thomas for his Hall of Fame induction.
But Pierzynski’s trip was cut short when he signed Friday with the St. Louis Cardinals to fill a backup role after the possible season-ending injury to catcher Yadier Molina.
‘‘I was actually on a boat with my family and Aaron Rowand’s family when we got word it was done,’’ said Pierzynski, 37, who was released by the Boston Red Sox two weeks ago.
‘‘I got in a cab and made the two-hour ride to the airport in Albany, and all these White Sox fans were there from Chicago. They were like, ‘Why are you going to Chicago?’ ’’
Pierzynski’s first game for the Cards was in familiar territory at Wrigley Field, where he took part in many memorable Cubs-Sox games.
‘‘If this can top the Cubs-White Sox when I was here, it has to be pretty good,’’ he said of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. ‘‘It’s going to be tough to top those first years I was here with the Sox.’’
Pierzynski was in the lineup Saturday, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
The left-handed-hitting Pierzynski was hitting .254 with four home runs and 31 RBI in 72 games with the Red Sox. He will platoon with Tony Cruz, who’s hitting .220.
Several teams were interested in the 17-year veteran, who ranks first among active catchers with 1,742 games behind the plate. But the Cardinals were the most aggressive and the team Pierzynski preferred.
‘‘You want to try to find a team that would win, and after talking to manager Mike Matheny, it seemed like a good thing,’’ Pierzynski said.
Pierzynski said Thomas was happy when he learned of the deal Friday.
‘‘Plus, I’m wearing No. 35 [Thomas’ retired Sox number], so he was happy,’’ Pierzynski said.
‘‘I talked to Paul [Konerko] on Friday, and a couple of other guys from the Sox texted me. They’re glad I found a good place to end up. This is a great opportunity, so we’ll take it and run with it.’’
Nate Schierholtz hit a pinch-hit home run off starter Shelby Miller in the sixth inning.
It was his sixth homer of the season and the fourth pinch-hit homer of his career.
Ryan Sweeney homered in the eighth, his second in as many days and third of the season.
Shortstops — then and now
Shortstop prospects Javy Baez and Addison Russell continue to hit for power.
Baez hit his 23rd double for Class AAA Iowa and drove in his 67th run in a 3-2 loss Friday to Memphis. Russell had his second multihomer game for Class AA Tennessee in a 9-8 loss Friday to Mississippi. Russell drove in four runs and has 12 RBI since joining Tennessee on July 20.
At Class A Kane County, the son of a former Cubs shortstop is playing left field. Shawon Dunston Jr., whose dad played for the Cubs from 1985 to 1995 and also in 1997, had his second consecutive multihit game, going 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and stolen base in a 7-2 victory Friday against South Bend.
Saturday’s attendance of 41,927 was the largest Wrigley Field crowd of the season.