The Good and Bad of Pierzynski

It looks like the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse could be in for a little shake up.

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced the signing of veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski to help man behind the plate while Yadier Molina continues to heal from thumb surgery. Pierzynski is expected to be in uniform for this afternoon’s game against Chicago and will wear uniform number 35.

In his 17th big league season, Pierzynski was designated for assignment by Boston after playing in 72 games this season and batting .254 (65-274) with 4 HRs and 31 RBIs. He was successful throwing out 9 of 47 attempted base stealers, slightly below his career average of 25%.

The move seems to signal a search for more offense, as Tony Cruz has gone 2-14 in the last five games, but one of those came in Friday’s game in which he also gunned down a runner. Back-up George Kottaras went 1-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the two games he appeared in.

A two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner, Pierzynski has also earned a reputation as one of the more unpopular or “most hated” players in the league, telling the Boston Globe earlier this spring “I just laugh at it,’’ he said. “I think it’s cool. I’ve won it a bunch of years in a row.”

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Atlanta BravesIt was no laughing matter with the Red Sox, however, as reports after his DFA shared he was more interested in his cell phone than teammates after games and his yelling across the field at umpires and players was not the way the team preferred to go about things.

Speaking with a couple of former non-Boston teammates, who wished to remain anonymous, they agreed Pierzynski could be difficult at times, acting without a filter on the field and confirmed at times he had been detached in the clubhouse. But they also felt he was a decent guy, especially away from the field.

And confirmation that Pierzynski isn’t all bad or unwelcomed–he traveled to Cooperstown with former White Sox teammates to watch another former teammate, Frank Thomas be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have some veteran leadership in their clubhouse–but so too does Boston. Neither John Farrell or Mike Matheny give the impression of managers that will tolerate certain behaviors that go against “team”, which appears to have at least in part led to Pierzynski’s departure from Boston.

And maybe this move will be perceived as a last chance by Pierzynski and prove to motivate resulting in a positive for all involved. At the least, it should prove interesting when the Cardinals host the Red Sox during the first week of August.


photo credit (top): Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
photo credit (insert): Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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