A clubhouse cancer with Giants? Pierzynski clears the air

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A clubhouse cancer with Giants? Pierzynski clears the air

The next time you see A.J. Pierzynski in a White Sox uniform, feel free to take a moment to thank the one man who helped bring the contentious catcher to the South Side in the first place.

Hawk Harrelson.

I think I was conceived because Hawk Harrelson was alive, Pierzynski joked during an interview for Inside Look: A.J. Pierzynski, which premieres Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

Pierzynski was being sarcastic, but in reality, if it wasnt for the longtime White Sox broadcaster, a family friend of the Pierzynski family since A.J. was a sophomore in high school, the backstop would have ended up somewhere like Baltimore or Tampa. Both teams offered him a contract, but Chicago was the only place he wanted to be.

We kept going to Kenny, and Kenny was like 'I don't know, I've heard all these bad things, and I don't know, I've gotta talk to my people, Pierzynski said. Finally, I guess Hawk got a hold of him, sat down and told him he'd take care of me, so Kenny finally consented and I've been here ever since.

While some players last their whole careers without making a single ripple of controversy, Pierzynski has been in the middle of the ocean, hanging ten on 20-foot waves, infamously surfing his way from one embroilment to the other.

Rangers manager Ron Washington not selecting him to the All-Star team is merely the latest public squabble involving the White Sox catcher, but certainly not the first.

That would be the notorious blowup that occurred in 2004 when Pierzynski was with the San Francisco Giants. In a story that ran in the Oakland Tribune that season, Pierzynski almost caused a mutiny among the Giants pitching staff.

The pitchers arent happy with him. If they can trade him, that would be fine with me, one player said. Another called him a cancer.

Several pitchers questioned Pierzynskis work ethic. He was accused of giving his teams signs to the opposition and for criticizing Giants pitchers to the Padres Phil Nevin while Nevin was hitting.

After years of speculation, Pierzynski wanted to set the record straight.

Basically one guy came out and said that.

I brought up Brett Tomko, the Giants pitcher who has long been associated with throwing Pierzynski under the bus.

Well, he says he didn't, Pierzynski said. But I know Matt Herges, he said some things, some other guys said some thingsyou know, they have their right, and one of the things I was accused of was getting the other team signs. Anyone that knows me, I would never in a million years give the other team, tell the other team what's coming. Whats funny is the guy who wrote the article, wrote this article and never asked me about it. He just wrote the article, and then it became a national perception that I was doing all these things when nobody still had ever asked me about it. That's the one thing I get most mad about.

After giving up Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser to acquire him from Minnesota, the Giants released Pierzynski after just one season.

With the perception of being a clubhouse cancer, it wasnt exactly the greatest situation to walk into as a free agent.

It wasn't hard to get a job. I could've had a job, but it was hard to get the right job, Pierzynski said. It was hard to find a job where I could come in and play everyday and not basicallyyou always had to earn your spot, but really without coming in and trying to basicallystart over, almost like a first-year guy.

Pierzynski instantly found a home with the White Sox, who in that first season won the 2005 World Series.

As for the 2004 Giants, safe to say A.J. wont be invited to any future reunions?

I don't know about that. There's still some guys on that team that I talk to. Scott Eyre, a former White Sox guy, I talk to all the time. As far as that goes, I don't know the answer to that, because if you look at it, we didn't have a bad year. I didn't have a bad year. We missed the playoffs on the last day.

Unless he and the White Sox strike a deal sometime this summer, Pierzynski will become a free agent after this season. Kenny Williams wont need a pitch this time from Hawk Harrelson to sign him.

On pace for career-highs in home runs and RBIs, Pierzynski might be taking care of that all by himself.

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brett Lawrie isn't sore, he's just not yet correctly aligned.

Until that happens, the White Sox second baseman doesn't want to risk playing at full speed, which for him is nearly the equivalent of hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon.

Lawrie said Sunday he has been pleased with the progress made in returning from a series of leg injuries that wiped out the final 2 1/2 months of last season. But he also isn't quite ready and doesn't want to risk re-injuring himself until he feels total confidence.

"I've been very happy and I haven't really gone backwards and that's been key for me," Lawrie said. "I guess the biggest thing is being able to trust myself when I get out on the field and not have to worry about my body and just worry about the game. If I can't do that then I'm not going to go out there and do that. S once I can clear that stuff up, and it's in the near future.

"I just need to keep being positive and keep putting the work in every single day and I'll be OK."

Lawrie and Rick Renteria said the veteran has been his normal hyper since he reported to camp eight days ago. He'd been a full participant leading up to Saturday when he told Renteria he still didn't feel completely right. But Lawrie said he's just working out the "end kinks" to a trying period. Even though he's had a few tough days of late, Lawrie is trying to stay upbeat and power through.

"It's nothing that's grabbing at me or anything like that," Lawrie said. "I think it's just how everything is sitting and needs to be aligned, that's all.

"Not completely where I want to be and I want to be right where I want to be in order to get out on the field. This last part has just been tough but I'm just continuing to push through and I want to be out on the field and be 100 percent and just have to worry about baseball and not have to worry about this. Before I get out there I just want to make sure that everything is cleared up."

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox held Brett Lawrie out Saturday after he reported discomfort in the same left leg that sidelined him for the final 2 1/2 months of 2016.

The second baseman has been a full participant the entire spring until he informed manager Rick Renteria what he was experiencing Saturday. 

"We're going to reevaluate him tomorrow and see where he's at," Renteria said. "He didn't feel quite right, and so he was in there earlier today getting treatment. We'll reevaluate tomorrow and make a determination where we're at in terms of trying to set some parameters for how we move forward."

A confusing, tricky series of injuries that Lawrie blamed on wearing orthotics limited him to 94 games last season. He hit the disabled list on July 22 and didn't discover the cause until after the season ended. But Lawrie reported to camp feeling healthy once again and has participated at 100 percent until this point, Renteria said.

"It's been good," Renteria said. "Everything has been clean. There have been no notifications anything had been amiss. He just woke up this morning and felt it. So we're going to be very cautious, take it a day at a time, reevaluate it and see where we're at."