Pierzynski makes a surprise visit at meetings

Pierzynski makes a surprise visit at meetings
December 10, 2013, 4:15 pm
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The few active players who visit the Winter Meetings are usually looking for jobs. A.J. Pierzynski, who signed an $8.25 million deal with the Red Sox last week, already has a job . . . but visited the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort anyway on Tuesday.

Pierzynski, who lives in nearby in the Orlando area, met briefly with manager John Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo, but said that wasn't the purpose of his visit. He came to have lunch with Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox owner. Pierzynski played for the White Sox for eight seasons and, like a lot of former Chicago players, remains on good terms with Reinsdorf.

"I was trying to go unnoticed," said Pierzynski to about a dozen reporters who cover the Red Sox. "Apparently, that didn't work out so well."

The Red Sox expect to benefit from the fact that Pierzynski, who replaces Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the team's No. 1 catcher, has spent all but one of his big-league seasons in the American League. That should make his transition to Boston easier, as he comes armed with knowledge of the league's hitters.

"I hope it helps," said Pierzynski. "At the end of the day, guys change leagues and change teams all the time. It's not like it used to be before free agency, no bouncing around. People change all the time. But it definitely helps, being in the American League all this time. A lot of the same guys cycle through and it definitely helps.

"I can't wait to sit down and [read] a new scouting report. That's what's fun. When you change teams, you find out new things about new people you've never heard before. [In] Texas (where Pierzynski played last year), [pitching coach] Mike Maddux is one of the best with scouting reports. So hopefully, he taught me some things that I can learn and relate them to [Red Sox pitching coach] Juan Nieves, whom I've known for a really long time (from Nieves' time as the White Sox' bullpen coach)."

Pierzysnki will be joining a new team for the second year in a row, having left the White Sox to sign a one-year deal with the the Rangers last winter. He knows that spring training will be important.

"It's definitely an adjustment period," he said, "just because of the position I play. It's not like you're a left fielder, where you're standing out there and saying, 'Okay, I gotta figure out how to play this wall.' I have to sit down and try to figure out everything. That's going to be the biggest adjustment period.

"Other than that, I've got to figure out how to fit in with a new team. I know a bunch of these guys already. It's not like I'm a first-year guy coming in. I've been around, I've played against a lot of these guys. I look forward to it. I've heard a lot of great things and it's going to be fun."

Pierzysnki's not totally unfamiliar with his new staff, as he's faced most of the Red Sox pitchers as a hitter over the years.

"I've faced [John] Lackey, like, 100 times," he said. "I think I know what John Lackey throws. I've [caught Jake] Peavy before (with the White Sox), I've faced [Ryan] Dempster a bunch, I've faced [Jon] Lester a bunch, I've faced a lot of these guys a whole bunch of times.

"That helps. As an opposing player, you kind of know what you were looking for and what they threw. Being on the same team is different than playing against them. You have different scouting reports, you kind of learn their strengths, what they like to do on the mound. It's a non-stop learning process for a catcher."

Before he signed with the Sox, he discussed the workload they would expect from him.

"We were on the same page," he said. "There was a specific number [of games] thrown out there. It was just one of those things we talked about. I'm all for it what we talked about it. John [Farrell] and I talked to [general manager Ben Cherington] and it was a good conversation and that's one of the reasons why I came here."

Pierzynski has hit almost everywhere in the lineup over his career, but doesn't seem to care where the Sox have him.

"As long as I'm playing, I don't care," he said. "I've hit everywhere -- 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. It doesn't matter to me. You only hit there once (to start the game) and then after that, you move on. Wherever they put me, I'll be happy."

Pierzynski is a lifetime .322 hitter at Fenway, but in 121 plate appearances, has yet to hit a homer there.

"That bothers me, because it's the only park I've hit one in," he said. "I've got to figure out a way to sneak one around the pole down there in right field. I've hit a few off the wall in left, but everytime I hit one to right, for some reason, they either catch it or it bounces. One of these days, I'm going to run into one and I'm going to have to get the ball.

"But I've always liked hitting there. It's a good place to hit. It has a good feel as a batter. It feels like you can reach out and touch [the left-field wall]; as a batter, that's a good feeling, that you can get beat and still get a hit. It's a good park and I always loved playing there because of the energy. It's one of the special places in baseball."