Pierzynski settling in at the plate for Sox

Pierzynski settling in at the plate for Sox
May 5, 2014, 6:30 pm
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BOSTON -- AJ Pierzynski has downplayed the effect of a meeting he had with Red Sox manager John Farrell two weeks ago, but his performance at the plate since then has been a revelation.

On Sunday he hit a game-tying home run against the A's in the seventh inning of Boston's 3-2 loss, his first-ever home run at Fenway Park. In the eight games since the Yankees series -- the series during which Pierzynski and Farrell met -- his average has climbed 50 points to .291.

"Came at a big time to tie things up," Farrell said of Pierzynski's blast Sunday. "He's been swinging the bat well. He's in the middle of our offense. When we're able to put up some runs on board, A.J. seemingly is in there."

He has been since the last week in April, at least. He's hitting .392 in that span with eight RBI.

After Pierzynski sought out Farrell in his office, the Sox manager believes his catcher has been more relaxed at the plate as well as behind the dish as he continues to develop a rapport with Red Sox pitchers.

"There was a game [during] the New York series, we had a chance to have a little bit of a sit-down," Farrell said. "He kind of just in some ways stopped trying to force his way in and just go play as he's done for many many years and been a very good player.

"I think it was his own realization of just not trying to be anybody different. Just go about your game as you typically do. Since that point, he's swung the bat well, he's thrown well, he's received well. Sometimes coming into a new organization regardless of your age and experience level is a feeling out process."

Pierzynski has always been one of the most aggressive hitters in the game, and through most of the first month of the season, he saw only about three pitches per at-bat.

Hitting in a lineup full of patient batters -- Mike Napoli (4.66), Xander Bogaerts (4.29) and Dustin Pedroia (4.19) are among the top 30 in baseball in pitches per at-bat -- Pierzynski's approach stuck out.

Still, the Red Sox were OK with it. They knew what they were getting into when they signed him this offseason.

"We didn't expect that he would come in and morph into a different approach at the plate," Farrell said. "We're aware of it, accepting of it. I think even for him he was swinging the bat even more aggressively and since then he's kind of slowed the game down a little bit and things have worked out well.

"Provided he performs to what his history has shown, that's what drew us to him. It might be a different approach, a more aggressive one, but we still feel like we can drive up pitch counts as a whole, and even he can. He gets into some tough at-bats where he's fouling some pitches off. He's in a pretty good place right now."

Pierzynski is still aggressive in the box, but he has appeared to work longer at-bats of late. He's seeing about 3.3 pitches per plate appearance now, and he hit his home run Sunday on a 3-2 count.

"We haven't really changed anything," Pierzynski said. "Just talking to [hitting coach Greg Colbrunn] about some stuff. Nothing major. But just trying to get up there and get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. That's all you can really do."

Settling into his new surroundings, and playing more "free of mind" as Farrell put it, has also clearly helped.