NEW YORK -- A.J. Pierzynski celebrated his 1,000th game with the White Sox in style on Saturday with two solo home runs.
Already with 14 homers this season, the veteran catcher is within four of the career-high 18 he established in his first season with the White Sox in 2005. His play has many in the clubhouse of the belief Pierzynski is worthy of a nod when All-Star rosters are announced on Sunday. Pierzynskis current .849 OPS is easily the highest of his career and hes hitting .285 with 45 RBIs.
A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski said hed enjoy the opportunity to head to Kansas City over the break, but its not something hes going to count upon. As of last Monday, Pierzynski was fourth among American League catchers in the fan vote, one in which Texas Mike Napoli held a hearty lead. Minnesotas Joe Mauer is also a likely candidate to make the team because he is easily his teams top -- and perhaps only -- candidate for consideration.
It would be great, Pierzynski said. Ive done it a couple of times. Its awesome. Its the ultimate personal reward as a player to be voted as an All-Star, to go there and enjoy the game. At the same time, I know how it works. Its a popularity contest and I know Im probably not going to win it and Im not going to go. Ive been there before. Ive had good first halves before and not gone so Im not going to put a whole lot of stock into it. Or get my hopes up. I think I deserve it, but if not its OK. Im not going to lose any sleep over it.
Pierzynski believes his home run total is up because of a combination of technique and maturity. Whereas in the past he hit with more top spin, Pierzynski said he has tried to hit with more backspin this season. He also said he has done a good job to avoid getting out in front when he swings.
I think now that Ive gotten a little bit older, Ive settled down a little bit, Pierzynski said. I still have my moments where I get mad, but Ive kind of learned to control especially this year a little bit better. Just trying to technique em and just get the barrel and back spin balls instead of getting a little bit anxious and getting out front. Ive always hit a lot of balls with top spin. Its gotten me a lot of hits, but it doesnt lead to hitting for power and this year Ive hit a lot more balls with backspin that have carried.
Good health has allowed Pierzynski to reach the 1,000-game mark with the franchise quickly at a position where durability is rare. Pierzynski has averaged 133 games a season since he joined the White Sox.
Ive been lucky, Pierzynski said. I havent had any major injuries, things that put me on the shelf. Last year was my first time on the shelf and it was miserable. Im fortunate to have been on competitive teams where the manager runs me out there a lot and I have to thank my parents for giving me good genes. I enjoy my job, taking the field every day. Its something I hope I can do for a few more years.