AJ on time with Sox: It was nice, but its over
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On his first day with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski said he refuses to look back.
Not that circumstance will allow for much review.
After eight seasons with the White Sox, the veteran catcher finds himself in foreign territory with a clubhouse full of new teammates and coaches to meet and a spring training complex to discover. Pierzynski, who signed a one-year, $7.5-million deal with Texas in December, called it was “bittersweet” to leave the South Side but he’s happy with the knowledge that he’s wanted.
“Knowing Texas wanted me from Day One, that was nice,” Pierzynski said. “But until you walk into a new clubhouse, it’s a big step and a big difference. But it’s nice to look up and see a couple people I know -- Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor and some other familiar faces. It helps a little, but it’s always a little awkward walking into a place after you’ve been someplace for so long. You kind of get lost trying to figure out where everything is, but that’s part of it. I’ll learn fast and go from there.”
Even though the White Sox expressed a desire to re-sign Pierzynski, whose departure leaves Paul Konerko as the only player left from the 2005 World Series team, the two sides never got close to a deal.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has stressed run prevention and chose to spend a significant chunk of the team’s cash on Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd in late October. The team also believes it has a viable option to replace Pierzynski in Tyler Flowers, which made the left-hander a lower priority sign. For his part, Pierzynski sounds as if he wasn’t surprised by the decision.
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“I can’t be disappointed,” Pierzynski said. “There’s no reason to be disappointed. I know it’s a business and it wasn’t meant to be. I’m excited about the new opportunity here and the chance to come to a team that definitely has a team to be very competitive with a goal of going to the playoffs and I’m looking forward to that, not looking back at what happened.”
As he looks ahead, Pierzynski made it sound as if he has left the door open to a return to the Sox down the road. He appreciates owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s comment on what Pierzynski meant to the organization and has made it clear he loves the team’s fans.
“I’ll always appreciate what Jerry did for me and will always have a special place in my heart,” Pierzynski said. “It was nice but it’s over. We’ll see. It takes two to want to do that. I know they had different plans this winter and we’ll see what happens in the future. After winning a World Series there and having the years I had there, especially the way the fans treated me, and people of Chicago in general, it’s a special place and every time I go back there I’ll look forward to it. But as far as that goes, I’m a Ranger now and I can’t wait.”