New Sox catcher Pierzynski 'just trying to fit in'

New Sox catcher Pierzynski 'just trying to fit in'
December 4, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Everywhere A.J. Pierzynski went this fall, it seemed, there were signs pointing him to join the Red Sox.

Pierzsynki heard from former White Sox and Twins teammates, such as Jake Peavy and David Ortiz, encouraging him to come to Boston. Even on vacation with his family in Hawaii, Pierzynski ran into former Red Sox outfielder Mark Kotsay, who gave his thumbs-up to Boston.

"Every person I talked to had a positive experience there,'' said Pierzysnki. "They love it there and they all said, 'If you get an opportunity to come, come.' "

The catcher, who agreed to a one-year, $8.25 million deal with Red Sox Monday, ultimately became convinced.

"There was a bunch of teams involved,'' said Pierzynski on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, ''not only the Red Sox but some other teams. I'm thankful there were other teams out there. Obviously, it's nice to know that you're wanted.

"But in the end, it just came down to wanting to go to Boston. Obviously, it's not every day that you get a chance to play for the defending World Series champions. Looking at the organization and what they have coming back, it's definitely a chance to win again. I've won once and when you win once, you want to try to do it again.

"It's an opportunity to try to come to a place where they're competitive, where they want to win and try to win every year. There was mutli-year offers out there, but in the end, I think winning kind of won out over everything.''

Said GM Ben Cherington: "I think A.J. represents a lot of what we were looking for at the outset of the off-season when it came to the catcher position. As we made clear, we really wanted to two things with the catching position: we wanted to maintain that position as a strength in 2014 and long-term. So we looked at several different options and we just felt like A.J. represented the best choice for us.

"He's been a very good everyday catcher for long time. He's been on a lot of very good teams, caught a lot of good pitchers, been part of a lot of good pitching staffs. He's obviously a threat with the bat. On top of that, as we look at free agents or guys in trade, we're looking for guys who don't just want to win but love to play and really are looking forward to coming to Boston.

"Aside from his talent, A.J. represented all of that. We just felt like it was the best fit for us.''

Pierzysnki is known for having a strong personality, one that can grate on opponents. But he said he doesn't anticipate any issues getting acclimated to his new team.

"I'm just trying to fit in,'' he said. "Last year, going to Texas, I think I fit in pretty well. From everything I've heard, the clubhouse is great. There are guys that I've known -- [Shane] Victorino, Jonny Gomes -- and everyone says they want to win. That's all I want to do. I don't think it should be that hard, when all you want to do is go in there and win. You just try to fit in and not step on peoples' toes. You find out what your role is on the team, you go with it and you do the best you can.

"This isn't my team. This is David Ortiz's and Dustin Pedroia's...their team. I'm just a piece to help them win again.''

Cherington said the Sox have spent time on evaluating various aspects of a catcher's defensive play, including game-calling, throwing, blocking pitches and pitch-framing.

"The combination of all those attributes,'' said Cherington of Pierzynski, "he's been on the plus side. The combination of A.J. and [David] Ross will allow that to be a strength for us next year, as it was last year.''

Pierzynski acknowledged that it will take some time to get to know a new pitching staff, but noted: "That's what spring training is for. One thing about being a catcher, every day is a new experience, every day is a learning experience with every pitcher. In basbeall, new stuff can happen every day. New situations arise, new predicaments, new things you've never seen before.

'It's always a learning process, an adjustment period."

Pierzynski added that having worked with pitching coach Juan Nieves -- when Nieves was the White Sox' bullpen coach -- will help with the transition.

Cherington said the Red Sox had a "number of conversations about bringing back catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

"We really appreciate everything he did,'' said Cherington of Saltalamacchia, who agreed with the Miami Marlins on a three-year, $21 million contract Tuesday.

"I'd rather not get into those conversations except to say we really appreciate everything he did. Certainly, Salty worked hard and overcame some adversity to become a primary catcher. We wish him well, but we felt like A.J. was the right fit for us at this current time and we're happy he's here.''