LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Knowing the toll last season took on Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski is glad his former teammate is back with the White Sox.
Pierzynski, whose lives in the Orlando area, stopped by the winter meetings earlier this week and had lunch with Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and his special assistant Dennis Gilbert. The former White Sox catcher, who recently signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, said Konerko has earned the right to return.
Konerko announced last week he had signed a one-year deal to play a 16th season with the White Sox, albeit in a reduced role.
“I’m happy for him,” Pierzynski said. “He deserves to finish his career as a White Sox and the opportunity. He deserved it. I told him I hope he comes out and has a great year and continues to play.”
The team’s captain, Konerko stated last week he’s a “White Sox for life.” He also discussed how difficult it was to think the team’s 99-loss campaign would his final one on the South Side. Though he perhaps hinted he’d be back before the season concluded, Konerko said all along he wasn’t quite sure and would need part of the offseason to decide. But Pierzynski, who played with Konerko for eight seasons, was almost certain the first baseman would come back.
“I knew he was going to,” Pierzynski said. “He was giving me the old ‘I don’t know’ but I could tell he still wanted to play and wanted to prove a lot of people wrong.”
Pierzynski said Konerko also let him know just how difficult last season was to endure. While Pierzynski and the Texas Rangers stayed in the pennant race until the final few days of the season, Konerko knew by the end of June his season was over.
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“He would talk to me all the time and text me all the time about how it rough it was and how hard it was every day,” Pierzynski said. “It’s never easy to go to the park and lose a lot of games. Paul had never really experienced that so for him to go through that was tough and hopefully he has a better year this year.”