Pierzynski placed on DL for first time in career
Fractured wrist sidelines catcher; White Sox buy Lucy's contract
CHICAGO -- Bruce Chen once again has put a noticeable crimp in the 2011 White Sox playoff chances.
Only this time, it's not about the crafty Royals left-hander shutting down the White Sox offense. With one pitch in Friday night's 5-1 victory over the South Siders, Chen knocked out the team's seemingly indestructible force behind the plate.
Chen hit White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski with an 88-mph slider on a 1-2 offering during the third inning. Although Pierzynski made it through the fourth inning, he departed before the top of the fifth.
X-rays were negative at that point, but with the pain not subsiding after two days off, further examinations were performed. Pierzynski was diagnosed on Tuesday with a fractured left wrist, and the catcher carrying a string of nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 innings caught was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his Major League career.
"I've never been on the DL, so I'm obviously upset and angry and frustrated," said Pierzynski, whose move to the DL was made retroactive to Aug. 13. "But at the same time, there's nothing I can do.
"It wasn't like I did something. It wasn't like I punched something or kicked something or did something stupid. It just happens. An inch here or there and I would have been OK. It hit me in the right spot, and hopefully, I can come back and be back in 15 days."
Pierzynski wore a brace on his left wrist while talking to the media before Tuesday's series opener against the Indians, but said a harder cast soon will be placed on the injured area. The best therapy for a rapid recovery is keeping the area immobilized.
While the White Sox travel to Anaheim and Seattle next week, Pierzynski will stay back home. He's hoping to get the wrist looked at next Thursday, and if he gets the go-ahead, Pierzynski will make an attempt to start swinging and getting ready for a return by Sept. 1.
This diagnosis of a non-displaced hairline fracture is being viewed more as a deep bruise or a bone compression. The move to the disabled list basically was done to protect Pierzynski from himself, preventing him from doing more damage to the bone by trying to play.
Realistically, though, Pierzynski believes a return to action is possible at the end of his stint on the disabled list.
"In my mind it is," Pierzynski said. "We'll see, but there's differing camps on that. It all depends on what we see when we re-test it in 10 days. I'm just going to hope and pray it gets better, and in 10 days, I can start swinging a bat and get ready."
"Wait and see," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of his view regarding Pierzynski's injury. "Ten days, we will have some tests on him, and if there's evidently cartilage growth in that area, then it's an indication that it's healing. If there's not, then it may mean he has to have surgery."
When Williams was asked if he was going to be proactive through the waiver wire in looking for a veteran catcher, he didn't hesitate in pointing to the White Sox taking batting practice for a response.
"Tyler Flowers," Williams said. "There's no help coming from outside."
"You have to worry about how we are going to handle our pitching staff," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "[Flowers] has been catching those guys. He's been having good at-bats the last couple of games. He should be fine."
Donny Lucy was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to replace Pierzynski, and Lucy has vast experience with White Sox pitchers as he has been a part of the organization for the past eight years. But the starting job belongs to Flowers, who previously replaced the injured Ramon Castro on the roster.
Flowers stopped to sign autographs before entering U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday and was told by the autograph seekers about Pierzynski's injury and Lucy's callup. The 25-year-old rookie didn't really believe the news until he entered the clubhouse and saw the starting lineup.
"Hopefully, it won't take A.J. too long to get back, but I kind of have the same job I did as a backup, just trying to help the team win," said Flowers, who has helped White Sox pitchers to a 3.00 ERA while he's behind the plate. "Prepare myself each day for whoever is pitching for us and for whoever is pitching for them and do the best I can. You can't put any more pressure on it than that."
An MRI and CT scan were taken of Pierzynski's wrist on Monday after something was seen on the original X-ray, and a hand and wrist specialist was called in. So, the veteran with 11 hits in his last 18 at-bats and the American League lead among catchers in innings caught finds himself out of action at one of the most crucial times of the season.
Missing this three-game series against Cleveland will be tough for Pierzynski. But it probably won't be as tough for Pierzynski as trying to occupy himself during this rare period of extended inactivity.
"I'm going to drive myself insane," Pierzynski said. "I've already talked to [director of conditioning Allen Thomas] about changing my program I work out with to keep my body in shape. I can do a lot of leg stuff and cardio stuff.
"Other than that, it's a whole new world for me, and I don't know what the heck I'm going to do with myself. I'm going to drive some people crazy."