No regrets: Pierzynski transitions from Sox to Texas
New chapter of career begins for catcher, who played key role in 2005 title run
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The clubhouse belonged to the Rangers at their Spring Training facility in Surprise.
But there was A.J. Pierzynski, the new Texas backstop via a one-year, $7.5 million free-agent deal, standing in front of his locker and talking about ... the White Sox. It stands to reason that Pierzynski would address his eight years with his previous team, during which he helped the White Sox end an 88-year championship drought in 2005 and became an organizational staple and a fan favorite.
He also made clear that there was no disappointment, per se, over leaving the White Sox, but instead excitement for getting started with the Rangers.
"I can't be disappointed. There's no reason to be disappointed. I know it's a business, and it wasn't meant to be," said Pierzynski on Tuesday morning. "I'm excited about the new opportunity here and the chance to come to a team that definitely has a team to be very competitive, with a goal of going to the playoffs. I'm looking forward to that, not looking back at what happened.
"Obviously when I signed here, it was bittersweet, because I had been someplace for a long time. But knowing Texas wanted me from Day 1, that was nice. Until you walk into a new clubhouse, it's a big step and a big difference, but it's nice to look up and see a couple people I know -– Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor and some other familiar faces.
"It helps a little, but it's always a little awkward walking into a place after you've been someplace for so long," Pierzynski said. "You kind of get lost trying to figure out where everything is, but that's part of it. I'll learn fast, and go from there."
As explained by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest and throughout the end of the offseason, it was tough for the White Sox to let Pierzynski go. He played an integral part in the team's 11-1 postseason run in 2005 on its way to a four-game World Series sweep of the Astros, and then posted career-best power numbers with his 27 homers and 77 RBIs in 2012.
After hitting .279 with 118 homers during his eight-year stint with the White Sox, the team decided to allocate offseason funds for Jake Peavy's two-year return and the addition of Jeff Keppinger at third base, as well as giving Tyler Flowers a full-time shot behind the plate. Pierzynski's departure was met with much angst from the White Sox fan base, but also a strong message of support from chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that ended with the following sentiment.
"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise," said Reinsdorf in the statement. "He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."
Pierzynski said Tuesday that he'll "always appreciate what Jerry did for me and will always have a special place in my heart." He added that his stint in Chicago was nice, "but it's over."
In regard to someday reconnecting with the White Sox, the new Rangers catcher remained open to the idea, but wasn't making any promises.
"We'll see," Pierzynski said. "It takes two to want to do that. I know they had different plans this winter, and we'll see what happens in the future. After winning a World Series there and having the years I had there, especially the way the fans treated me and people of Chicago in general, it's a special place.
"Every time I go back there, I'll look forward to it. But as far as that goes, I'm a Ranger now, and I can't wait."