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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A.J. Pierzynski plans to start a lot (as usual)

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. – New Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski knows what it takes to be behind the plate for 120 or more games in a season.

In fact, no active player has more games played at catcher (1,599) and starts (1,478) than Pierzynski. He’s 14th all time in starts behind the dish.

Pierzynski, 36, doesn’t plan on slowing down. He started 121 games for the White Sox in 2012, the fourth time in the past five seasons he’s started at least 120 games at catcher. He hit the ball well, too, hammering 27 homers and driving in 77 runs.

Of course, in the Texas heat, starting 120 games may not be possible. But Pierzynski could end up eclipsing the 100-game barrier as the true starter in 2013, if he stays healthy. Geovany Soto is his backup.

Pierzynski said starting that many games helps with continuity between himself and the staff.

“I take a lot of pride in going out there every day and playing,” Pierzynski said. “When you’re in a three-game series, you’re back there the first two games and by the third game you should have a pretty good idea of what you can do against that team. I think it allows you to have a better game plan and to know how you attack a certain team.”

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The Rangers are arriving in Surprise, Ariz., for spring training and Ben and Skin discuss what to expect from the team this season.

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Pierzynski joked that he wants all of the Rangers players wearing nametags so he can figure out names. His top goal right now: learn as much as he can about his new pitching staff. That starts by catching bullpen sessions.

“I want to catch as many as I can, talk to them as much as I can and see how they like to go about it,” Pierzynski said. “(I want to) talk to (pitching coach) Mike Maddux as much as possible about what he sees in guys and what he expects. Every day is a chance to learn something more about these guys.”

He said he’s ready to get things going.

“I’m coming in here to a new team, a team that has high expectations, a team that’s been to the playoffs three years in a row and the World Series two of the last three years,” Pierzynski said. “You just want to continue it and help them continue to have the success they’ve had over the last few years and not mess it up. You try to help in any way you can and everything else will work out.”

ESPN Stats & Information's Lee Singer contributed to this blog entry.