- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux has been thrilled with his tandem of former Chicago catchers. Veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto have worked hand in hand with Maddux on the daily preparation of his pitching staff.
“The success so far of our pitching staff has a lot to do with A.J. and Soto,” Maddux said. “Those guys are great quarterbacks behind the dish.”
The Rangers lead the American League in wins and ERA. Both Pierzynski, a former White Sox, and Soto, a former Cub, signed with Texas in the offseason as free agents . Pierzynski’s one-year deal is worth $7.5 million and Soto is under contract for one year at $3 million.
“A.J. brings years of experience back there and has great vision behind the plate,” Maddux said. “He sees the whole field and sees the batter. He and Geo read hitters very well and I think our young pitchers have been helped by A.J.’s experience.”
The edgy Pierzynski has been a big hit with his Texas teammates and coaching staff alike.
“AJ is probably the most popular unpopular guy around,” Maddux said. “We joke about it all of the time. He is a true gamer and a true professional. A.J. plays to win every game. He never takes a pitch off and never takes an at-bat off. He is a consummate pro. I get a kick out of him. I love him to death and he has helped make our team very, very competitive. He has really pulled some of these young guys through some big moments.”
Pierzynski is hitting .263 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Soto has not played that much, and is hitting .182 with no homers or RBIs.
21hMike Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information