Notes: A.J. understands pitchers
Catcher knows importance of relationship with hurlers
CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski did not hear or read about last weekend's in-game disagreement between Cleveland starting pitcher Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez, reportedly leading to a team meeting following a loss to Texas.
But Pierzynski certainly understands the important relationship between members of the battery and how it can go astray on occasion.
"Well, you have to know what's going on," Pierzynski said. "As a catcher, you put down your best suggestion for the pitch. The pitcher has the ball in his hand and he has the ultimate decision.
"You put down what you think is the right pitch for that situation, and they have the right to shake their head. That's why as a catcher, sometimes it's frustrating when guys shake their head. But it's their game and their right. It [stinks] some times, but that's the way it is.
"We have a pretty good group," Pierzynski added. "You always get into it, but we never had a problem with guys getting into it about pitch selection. We talk about it with [pitching coach Don Cooper]. If I have a problem, I'll go out to the mound."
Pierzynski gave credit to manager Ozzie Guillen for the harmonious relationship between the pitchers and catchers, pointing out how Guillen only finds fault with mental errors and not poor pitch selection. Pierzynski has a strong resume behind the plate, working with American League Central champions from Minnesota during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and of course, the world champion White Sox in 2005.
Even with that high level of success, Pierzynski knows disagreements can arise during the course of a season. But the veteran backstop believes the best way to settle any differences between pitcher and catcher is by talking it out in private, not airing the issues through the media.
"Yeah, you have to work with them and not let it get public and not show them up on the field," Pierzynski said. "You do the best you can to make them believe whatever they want to throw is the right pitch.
"It's hard some time. You have an ego as a catcher and you want them to trust you, and there are times where guys do and guys don't. Guys have game plans, and sometimes yours is different.
"The pitcher is going to win," he added. "If he has an idea and I go out to the mound and say, 'Hey, what are you thinking right here?' and they give me a reason, go for it. Make a good pitch and let's go. If it doesn't work out, hey, it doesn't work out."
Business before family: Phillies general manager Pat Gillick sat down Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee on Friday and told him how the team had acquired second baseman Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox. Then Gillick told Dubee that the player traded away was his son, Michael Dubee.
"At first, you're a little disappointed," the elder Dubee said. "Then you step back and look at it: First of all, they asked for him. They must like him. And to get traded for a Major League everyday second baseman, I think it says they must think he's got talent."
Dubee, 21, is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 30 relief appearances for Class A Lakewood of the South Atlantic League. The right-hander, who has 54 strikeouts over 55 2/3 innings, will join Class A Kannapolis' starting rotation.
"This is a business," the Phillies' pitching coach said. "We needed a second baseman. If this guy can come over and fill Chase [Utley's] shoes and help us win a pennant and get to the World Series ... I'll give Michael some of the playoff share."
Fundamental success: In working his way through the White Sox system and to the Majors on a full-time basis in 2007, Josh Fields always carried the reputation of swinging a powerful bat. It was the small ball part of his game, ranging from defense at third to bunting to simply hitting behind the runner, which had to develop.
Those particular areas of growth only seemed natural, considering Fields split his time at Oklahoma State as an all-conference quarterback and as a stellar performer on the diamond. But by Fields' estimation, the only road to improvement has been traveled through daily game action.
"You can make breaks [in the field] and stuff like that with coaches hitting fungos, but it's not like getting in a game," said Fields, who laid down a ninth-inning sacrifice bunt that led to the winning run scoring on Thursday. "You try to teach that stuff in the Minors as much as you can, but you have to have game experience to get all that stuff out of the way.
"Hopefully, as more and more games continue, I don't stop progressing. I feel a lot better with it."
Happy family: Mark and Jamie Buehrle welcomed their first child, a 7-pound, 11-ounce son named Braden David, into the world on Thursday morning. Mother and son are said to be doing fine, and Buehrle is scheduled to make his next start Saturday.
Around the horn: According to general manager Ken Williams, Darin Erstad already would have returned to the White Sox from his Minor League rehab assignment to test a sprained left ankle if not for a minor neck injury costing him Wednesday and Thursday's games. "I think he had a crook in it," Williams said. "The ankle, he actually started to run well." Erstad was back in Triple-A Charlotte's lineup Friday night. ... Paul Konerko had Friday night off and also will be rested Sunday, according to Guillen. ... The White Sox are 14-9 when Scott Podsednik appears in a game and 32-47 when he does not. ... Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Konerko and Jim Thome have combined to go 4-for-51 against Toronto entering Friday, with one home run and four RBIs. In 2006, the quartet hit .387 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs against Blue Jays pitching.
Down on the farm: Gio Gonzalez struck out 11 and allowed two hits over 6 2/3 innings, but he finished with a no-decision during Double-A Birmingham's 6-3 victory in 11 innings over West Tennessee on Thursday. Gonzalez leads the Southern League with 142 strikeouts. Second baseman Michael Myers hit the game-winning three-run home run. ... Andrew Sisco struck out six over five scoreless innings, and more importantly, he only walked one in Charlotte's 5-4 loss at Buffalo. Mike MacDougal also threw one scoreless inning of relief, giving up two hits. ... John Shelby knocked out his seventh triple and sixth home run among four hits, driving in three, as Kannapolis held off Rome, 11-8.
On deck: The new father makes his 21st start of the season Saturday night. When Buehrle (7-6, 3.23 ERA) and Roy Halladay (11-4, 4.15 ERA) last met up, in Toronto on May 31, the left-hander allowed two solo home runs and nothing more but still lost by a 2-0 final.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.