Pierzynski not worried about future
With deal expiring and Flowers in wings, uncertainty exists
CHICAGO -- It's easy to support the theory of A.J. Pierzynski standing out as one of the most valuable players on the White Sox roster during his five-year tenure in Chicago.
Pierzynski's durability has become even more important considering the White Sox haven't exactly had highly productive backups stationed behind him. He has double-digit home run power, is good for a RBI total in the range of 50 to 70. Also in 2009, he became the first White Sox catcher to hit .300 in a single season.
"To have that happen is pretty cool, and it seems like something like that would be impossible to not have happened before with the White Sox," said Pierzynski of no previous White Sox catcher hitting .300, with his .300 average putting him second behind Joe Mauer's .365 mark among American League catchers in 2009. "It's something they can write on my tombstone someday."
Even the distractions coming along with Pierzynski from time to time, media scrutiny that other players might not choose to deal with or be able to handle, often takes the focus and even some pressure off of his teammates. With all of those positive attributes on his resume, not to mention playing an integral role during a World Series title run in '05, the '10 season still could be Pierzynski's last one in Chicago.
His three-year, $18.35 million extension, signed on Oct. 3, 2007, and replacing the final year of a previous three-year deal in '08, runs out with his $6.25 million salary for '10. Top catching prospect Tyler Flowers is waiting in the wings, but Pierzynski won't let such an uncertain matter distract from his primary goal.
"There's nothing I can do," said Pierzynski, who made a brief stop in Chicago last week to attend the Champions for Children's charity event on Thursday night, hosted by Kerry and Sarah Wood for Children's Memorial Hospital at the Palmer House Hilton.
"[Sox officials] will make decisions that help the team win," Pierzynski said. "Tyler is a great kid, a great player and a great person. If they think he can help us win, I'm all for it. I just want to win games. If we go out and win, it all will work out in the end."
In just these somewhat early stages of the offseason, Pierzynski has watched veteran teammate Jermaine Dye have his ties severed with the White Sox and leadoff man Scott Podsednik possibly following down a similar exit path. The same situation transpired for Jim Thome and Jose Contreras back in September.
Questions to be answered for the White Sox, where Pierzynski's long-term employment is concerned, center on when Flowers, 23, will be ready for everyday catching duties, and in the interim, whether the South Siders will give Flowers a chance to work with Pierzynski as part of the Major League roster. Then again, it's hard to pass up a player possessing Pierzynski's intangible skills, even with a hard-hitting talent such as Flowers in the picture.
"Hopefully, we have a great year as a team and they will be in a situation where they want to bring me back, because I would be all for it," Pierzynski said. "We haven't really talked about it, but everyone knows I would love to stay here and be a part of the White Sox for as long as I play.
"That's something I'm not going to worry about. If they want to come and do something, we'll be more than happy to talk about it. At the same time, I'm prepared to let it play out and see what happens."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.