ATLANTA -- A.J. Pierzynski has reached a couple of impressive milestones over the past two weeks, but he has been routinely reminded that he is no spring chicken. At the same time, the Braves catcher has been given reason to take pride in the durability and consistency he has provided throughout his career.
Two weeks after notching his 2,000th career hit, Pierzynski appeared in his 2,000th game during Thursday night's 7-4, 10-inning loss to the Phillies at Turner Field. While the 39-year-old veteran understands the significance of the accomplishments, the immediate thrill has been subdued by the fact that both milestones were reached during Braves losses.
"It will be nice when I'm done to look back and say that I reached those [milestones]," Pierzynski said. "But both of them came in losses, and both of them came in games you want to win. The bottom line is you want to win the game. Milestones are great [and all], but at the end of the day if you don't win the game, then it kind of takes the luster off it."
Pierzynski stands as one of 10 catchers in Major League history who have played in 2,000 games, and he has been behind the plate for 1,894 of those games. The seven other active players who have reached this milestone are Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz and Jimmy Rollins.
"To reach these milestones [as a catcher], where you're nicked up almost every game, and I think the only time you're healthy is some time in the winter time," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But he's put up 2,000 hits and played 2,000 games. At the end of the day, that's a pretty good career."
Though this season has been rough for Pierzynski, who has compiled a .494 OPS for the 8-25 Braves, he showed some life on Thursday, when he reached base twice, including a single in Atlanta's game-tying, four-run seventh inning.
Pierzynski has shown some lingering effects of serving as Atlanta's starting catcher 104 times at 38 years old last year. But whatever transpires over the remainder of this season should not taint all that he has accomplished since he made his Major League debut for the Twins on Sept. 9, 1998. Minnesota's lineup that day also included Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who now serves as the Twins' manager.
"It's obviously very cool to look back and say I've played in 2,000 games and got 2,000 hits and all that good stuff," Pierzynski said. "I wish I had 2,000 wins. It's cool and it's great. When I'm done playing, I'll look back, and it's something my kids and family can be proud of. But at the end of the day, it takes a little luster off when you lose the game."