A.J. Pierzynski becomes 10th catcher to reach 2,000 hits
A.J. Pierzynski became the 10th catcher in MLB history to reach the 2,000-hit club.
The Atlanta Braves joins a star-studded cast of former players to reach the milestone while being listed primarily at catcher, and it is a list defined by exclusivity. Five Hall of Famers — Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter and Johnny Bench — and three perennial All-Stars in Ivan Rodriguez, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre, who later made it to Cooperstown as a manager, highlight the club.
He’s the first player to accomplish the feat since three-time All-Star Jason Kendall in 2009.
Pierzynski, 39, notched his milestone hit off Red Sox knuckballer Steven Wright in Wednesday night’s interleague game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"It’s a lot of hits and it’s very hard. It’s something that not a lot of catchers have been able to do," Pierzynski said over the weekend. " … There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, every day working out with the strength coaches and (strength and conditioning coach Phil) Falco and the other guys.
"And then not having really any major injuries. That’s luck. As a catcher not having too many things where things have been broken or hit or whatever — I’ve been hit by a lot of balls and luckily they’ve all missed the spot. It’s a combination of a lot of things, but it’s something that I’m probably most proud about is the fact that I’ve been able to go this long and still feel great doing it."
The two-time All-Star is in his 19th season with his seventh big-league club, owning a career .282/.321/.423 slash line with 186 home runs. He also captured a World Series ring in 2005 as the primary catcher for the Chicago White Sox.
Pierzynski, who re-signed with Atlanta following a resurgent age-38 season in 2015, got off to a slow start to the season, but he had reached base safely six times in his previous three games entering the Red Sox series.
“Anytime you’re top ten in anything, in the major leagues, that’s some kind of a career," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Another milestone sits just around the corner for Pierzynski, too. With 49 more hits this season, he’ll pass Bench, the former Reds great, on the all-time hits list.