Thursday, June 2, 2011
Pesky Pierzynski part of White Sox's revival
By Doug Padilla
Perhaps now A.J. Pierzynski will start getting booed at ballparks around the country for more than just being A.J. Pierzynski.
The player everybody loves to hate has been working on his latest aggravation. He is locked in at the plate right now and has been a big part of the Chicago White Sox’s offensive resurgence.
A.J. Pierzynski has turned in three straight multi-hit games.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to be a pain in the rear end, so why should turning into an effective hitter be any different? Pierzynski said his resurgence is credited to the smallest of adjustments with his hands and feet, but mostly with his hands.
“I was just trying to get balance,” said Pierzynski, when asked if he would go into the details on what adjustment he made. “That’s the big thing, just getting balance and gain some ground. That’s about it.”
OK, so details are a little sketchy. It wouldn’t be Pierzynski if he didn’t make things a little challenging.
Essentially what has happened is that by committing to a new feel with his hands, it freed his mind to concentrate on other aspects of his swing. In turn, he has become more aggressive at the plate and his plate coverage has been off the charts.
Not only has Pierzynski delivered three consecutive multi-hit efforts, he has multiple-hit games four of the past five times he has played. And the improvement isn’t a recent phenomenon. He is batting .343 (24-for-70) over his past 19 games.
Heading into play Wednesday, he was the hardest in the American League to strike out at once every 19.30 plate appearances.
“You know [this adjustment] has kind of freed me up in the past,” Pierzynski said. “It’s something I have done before and didn’t know I wasn’t doing it anymore. It was nothing major. Any time you make a minor adjustment and get some hits it obviously gives you confidence, and it goes from there. You always are making adjustments. This was as simple as taking my mind off pretty much everything else and getting me back to a certain feel that I was looking for.”
His improvement couldn’t have come at a better time. With Adam Dunn still struggling, Pierzynski has slid up to the No. 5 spot in the batting order of late, giving production from the left side of the batter’s box the White Sox have been looking for.
“I felt pretty good all year, and I hit a lot of balls hard this year that were caught,” Pierzynski said. “That’s more frustrating than anything. Obviously you have ups and downs. When you hit the ball hard and guys catch it that gets a little frustrating. You start trying to hit them harder instead of doing what you’re doing.”
In the first inning of Tuesday’s game at Boston, Pierzynski had that determined look at the plate and turned it into a two-run single with two outs. It was the start of a 10-run night for the White Sox.
“When they’re falling in you feel like you can do anything,” he said. “It’s up and down. It’s hitting. There is no right answer. Nobody’s figured it out yet.”
For now Pierzynski will gladly hit out of the No. 5 spot in the lineup, but he doesn’t want to necessarily stay there. Being in the heart of the order is great and all, but if he gets knocked back to the sixth or seventh spot while still producing, that means Dunn has gotten back on track and has moved into a key role.
“He’s done it for a long time, and he’s going to figure it out,” Pierzynski said of Dunn. “We just need him to figure it out and get going because once he gets going, with this team the sky’s the limit. Once him and [Alex] Rios get to where they’re supposed to be we’ll be on our way.”