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Pierzynski set for roller-coaster weekend

A.J. Pierzynski figures to receive a warm welcome in his return to U.S. Cellular Field on Friday. Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski will be torn Friday as he make his long-awaited return to U.S. Cellular Field.

Pierzynski will once again get to play in front of Chicago White Sox fans that treated him so well for eight seasons, but he will also try to send those fans disappointed now that he plays for the Texas Rangers.

The veteran catcher knows it will be a whirlwind three days.

"I will be glad to get it over with, especially Friday," Pierzynski told reporters in Texas on Wednesday. "But I'm looking forward to it and seeing some people. I still have a lot of friends over there, guys who I will be friends with for life."

Also making his return to the South Side will be Alex Rios, whose time away has been far shorter than what Pierzynski has experienced. Rios was dealt to the Rangers on Aug. 9.

Rios put up solid, although sometimes inconsistent numbers with the White Sox, and is sure to get a warm reception from fans, but it is Pierzynski who figures to get the loudest pregame cheers among players from both teams.

The Florida native not only helped the White Sox win the 2005 World Series during his first season with the club, he also showed grit and determination during his South Side tenure. His dedication to win at all costs, even if that included playing mind games with opponents, endeared him to White Sox fans.

Third on the White Sox’s list of games caught, behind Sherm Lollar and Carlton Fisk, Pierzynski batted .279 with the White Sox, hitting 118 home runs with 460 RBIs. But as the White Sox toil in last place this season, the Rangers lead the American League West by 2 1/2 games over the Oakland Athletics.

Now, though, he will suit up in the visiting locker room at U.S. Cellular Field for the first time since 2003 when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins.

"It will be weird going into the visitor's clubhouse, but I'm looking forward to going to the city," Pierzynski said. "I love the city, I love the organization and I love the fans. Hopefully we'll go in there and play well."

It actually will be Pierzynski's second visit to Chicago this season. The Rangers faced the Cubs in an interleague series at Wrigley Field in April.