A.J. eager to begin Boston chapter of career
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A.J. Pierzynski, who lives only a few miles from where baseball's Winter Meetings are being held, took the short drive to the showcase event on Tuesday and had lunch with his former boss -- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
That also gave the veteran catcher a chance to exchange pleasantries with two men for whom he will play this season -- manager John Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo.
Soon to be 37, Pierzynski still has a 22-year-old's enthusiasm for his job. Dressed in a golf shirt and jeans, he seemed eager to throw on his gear and uniform and embark on the next chapter of his career.
This is the second straight season he will be gaining comfort in new surroundings after joining the Rangers last season.
"I can't wait to sit down and find out new scouting reports," said Pierzynski. "That's what's fun. When you change teams, you find out new things about new people you never heard before. I know coming from Texas, [pitching coach] Mike Maddux was one of the best at scouting reports. Hopefully, he taught me some things that I can kind of learn."
Pierzynski also looks forward to settling into his new digs at Fenway Park, at which point he hopes to finally discover what it feels like to go into a home-run trot at that historic venue.
In 121 career plate appearances at Fenway, he has a .322 average, but no homers.
"Well, I need to hit a home run. I've never hit a home run there, and that bothers me, because it's the only park I've never hit one in," he said. "I've got to figure out a way to sneak one around the pole down there in right field. I've hit a few off the wall in left, but every time I seem to hit one to right, for some reason they either catch it or it bounces. One of these days, I'm going to run into one there, and I'm going to have to probably get the ball."
All kidding aside, Pierzynski can't wait to play at Fenway, a ballpark that has as much energy as he does.
"It's always been a good place to hit and always has a good feel as a batter," he said. "It always feels like you can reach out and touch left field, so it's always a good feeling when you know you can get beat and still get a hit. It's a good park. I've always loved playing there because of the energy. There's always a different energy there. It's one of the most special places in baseball, so it's going to be fun."
Though most catchers start to slow down in their late 30s, Pierzynski has remained one of the most durable players at his position. He hopes to be a mainstay in 2014, though David Ross will also have plenty of chances to play.
"I've been lucky, first of all, and very fortunate," said Pierzynski. "At the end of the day, also, it's something I want to do. I want to be out there, I want to try to play every day. It's cool. It's something I can look back on and say, 'Hey, I did this for a long time, and I did it every day.' And catching is not easy. You have to want to get back there. I was taught at a young age that you just keep going out there, and good things have happened. I've been able to do that. I've been lucky, like I say."
But not all of Pierzynski's success can be attributed to luck, as he works at maintaining his body 12 months a year.
"It gets harder the older you get, that's for sure," he said. "You can't take days off. You can't do what you used to be able to do. You can't go and do some of the things off the field that you used to be able to do. You just can't recover as fast. As you get older, you also learn what you like to do and how you can do it and how you can fit it in and how you can kind of mold your day to what you need to get done. That's one of those things that, when you play a long time, you learn about yourself on and off the field."