Wednesday, September 7, 2011
A.J. Pierzynski wants to stay -- and play
By Doug Padilla
MINNEAPOLIS -- A.J. Pierzynski doesn't plan on giving up playing time next season without a fight.
With rave reviews still coming in over Tyler Flowers' performance at catcher since being recalled July 10, speculation has started on what the Chicago White Sox will do behind the plate next season.
Flowers has shown he is ready for the big time, but Pierzynski still has another year on the two-year deal he signed over the winter.
"I want to play, everyone knows that," Pierzynski said Wednesday on ESPN 1000's "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" show.
Manager Ozzie Guillen has already looked forward as well, saying that if Flowers and Pierzynski both make the team next season, he expects Flowers to play much more than Ramon Castro did when he was Pierzynski's backup.
Pierzynski was asked how he would accept that kind of a scenario.
"It depends; it would have to be the right situation," Pierzynski said. "They would have to approach me the right way with it, and we'd see. But I haven't thought about it. I haven't gone there yet, and I'm not really worried about it right now. I'm just worried about this year and staying as healthy as I can."
With the White Sox getting creative with their finances this season, Pierzynski agreed to move $6 million of his current $8 million deal to the 2012 season. It becomes a hefty price tag for a potential platoon player, if the White Sox decide to go that route with Pierzynski and Flowers.
Trading Pierzynski won't be so simple since he is a "10-and-5" player (10 years in the league, five years in the same organization). Anybody in that situation has the right to block a trade. Pierzynski enjoys Chicago and claims a loyalty to the White Sox, so would he approve a deal to the Cubs?
"I don't know, I can't say yes or no to that," Pierzynski said. "Heck, if they have a good team, why would I say no to that? If they go out and make the right signings, why would I say no to that?
"I'm a White Sock. I consider myself a White Sock, and hopefully I'll be a White Sock the rest of my career."
And just how long will that career last?
"As long as my wife and kids are OK with me playing, I don't know why I wouldn't want to play," the 34-year-old said. "Everyone I've talked to who retires says 'Hey man, play as long as you can and play until they rip the uniform off you.'
"If it gets to the point where they say the juice isn't worth the squeeze, then it's something I'll definitely look at. But for now physically I feel fine other than breaking my wrist. I feel great. My legs feel great, my back feels solid. As long as they let me play, I'll keep playing, and like I said, I'd love to be with the White Sox for a long time."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.