The Texas Rangers believe they’ve found a winning piece in new catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Pierzynski, who signed a one-year deal with the Rangers Wednesday, will be the primary catcher for Texas in 2013.
The Rangers are hoping that the gritty 35-year-old can help the club get back to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.
“A.J.’s a winning guy,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “There aren’t that many catchers in the league that go out there and play every day. It’s a demanding position and I think says something about him not just physically, but mentally and emotionally to get up and be ready to play each and every day.”
Pierzynski has started at least 102 games at catcher every year since
2001 and has played in at least 125 games for 11 consecutive years. He’s
coming off a career year with the Chicago White Sox. He hit .278 with a
career-high 27 home runs and matched his career high with 77 RBI.
He’s been to the postseason four times in his career and the chance at
playing for a playoff contender was one of the lures to Texas for
“Obviously they’ve been to the World Series two of
the past three years and the playoffs for three years,” Pierzynski said.
“Obviously getting to know Wash (manager Ron Washington), especially
two years ago when I first did FOX (TV work) and Texas was in the World
Series. Seeing the way he went about it and the way he handled the guys,
you looked at it as a player and I was like ‘Man I want to go there.
These guys are having fun and winning at the same time.'”
The Rangers cleared a roster spot for Pierzynski on the 40-man roster by designating catcher Luis Martinez for assignment.
In addition to his durability, Pierzynski will also bring an edge to the Texas clubhouse. He’s never been afraid to speak his mind, which has upset some. This year he expressed his displeasure after he was left off the All-Star team by Washington.
The two briefly talked about it when they had lunch before Pierzynski signed with Texas.
“It’s old news,” said Washington. “We’re ready to move on.”
Pierzynski can’t concern himself with what people think about him.
“The only thing they (fans) need to know me about me as person is I want to win,” he said. “I go out there and play every day to try and win. I’ll do everything in my power to try to win.
“Whatever’s said or been written you can’t change what they’ve said or what they’ve done. I take pride in going out there every day and I take pride in giving everything I have.”
Pierzynski is ready for the heat of Texas, too. He said he’s always loved playing in Texas and playing in the heat. He doesn’t think the Texas heat will wear on him either because he grew up playing in Florida and he knows how to take care of his body. The Rangers hope that’s the case because they made it clear Wednesday that he is the No. 1 catcher and Geovany Soto is the backup.
“A.J. is signing on as our guy,” Washington said. “Geo, he will get some playing time. But A.J. will be the front-runner.”