Jump to content

Pierzynski: A Cancer in the clubhouse?


Recommended Posts

SAN FRANCISCO -- Struggling Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski was called into Felipe Alou's office for a closed-door meeting Thursday with the manager and general manager Brian Sabean before a 4-3 loss to the Marlins, and while Pierzynski said he did not ask to be traded, several teammates said they wouldn't mind seeing him shipped off the roster.


"He's the cancer in here," said one Giant, who requested anonymity. "The pitchers aren't happy with him. If they can trade him, that would be fine with me. We all know Yorvie (Yorvit Torrealba) can catch this staff."


Pierzynski, who came over from Minnesota in an off-season trade, denied he wants out of San Francisco, and said he has worked hard to develop a rapport with the pitchers here.


But several pitchers disagreed, and questioned Pierzynski's work ethic. The latest incident occurred before Wednesday's game, when two players confirmed Pierzynski ignored starting pitcher Brett Tomko's request to go over opposing hitters. Instead, the players said, Pierzynski resumed playing cards for another 20 minutes.


"I've never in all my years seen a catcher who didn't watch video before games," one pitcher said. "He doesn't watch hitters -- other than the Twins games when they're on TV."


Another disturbing story made its way through the clubhouse last week.


According to two Giants players, the Padres' Phil Nevin said Pierzynski was criticizing Giants pitchers while Nevin was at the plate.


"That did it for me," one Giants pitcher said. "If a pitching staff doesn't have the respect of their catcher, that's it. That's what it's all about.


"I can understand if you're a veteran who's been here six years, somebody like Benito (Santiago). That's one thing. You're entitled to do things your way. But when you're coming into a new situation, you're the one that has to earn respect. This is an established pitching staff."


Added another pitcher: "He's my catcher. I've got to work with the guy. But if they make a change, that would be fine by me."


Neither Alou nor Sabean would comment on the meeting, though Sabean said it wasn't about finding Pierzynski a change of scenery. Two other major league GMs said they didn't believe the Giants were actively shopping him.


"Absolutely, unequivocally no," Sabean said. "Not on his part, not on our part. Whoever is saying that is giving an utter line of bull."


Said Pierzynski: "Me, Brian and Felipe sat down and talked about things, about what's going on with the team. It was a constructive and fun conversation. No problems were brought up at all."


But according to two players, Pierzynski has privately said he is unhappy in San Francisco and wants out. When asked directly if that was the case, Pierzynski laughed.


"Hell no," he said. "I'd never ask to be traded. First of all, I'd never do that. Why would I request to be traded? We've played 20 games. This is a great park, a great place to play.


"If they trade me, I'll go wherever they send me and be happy there. It's kind of funny, actually. I've already been traded once this year. I'll go somewhere else if that's what they want. There's nothing I can do. I don't have a no-trade clause. I can just pack up and go."


Pierzynski developed a reputation as a hothead in Minnesota and was unpopular with many opposing teams who accused him of chirping behind the plate and other unsportsmanlike conduct. This spring, the Giants accepted him and several players praised his feisty, emotional style of play.


A month into the season, the honeymoon apparently is over.


"You know he's an abrasive person, and you tolerate it," a Giants pitcher said, "but when you're around it this long, it starts to wear you out."


A career .301 hitter entering the season, Pierzynski has four hits over his past nine at-bats to raise his average to .236. He has grounded into a team-leading seven double plays and has become a magnet for boos at China Basin.


Some pitchers wondered aloud if Pierzynski hasn't continued to sulk over his hitting slump while he's supposed to be focusing on calling pitches -- a charge Pierzynski pointedly denied.


"My job is to help this staff," he said. "Hitting is a bonus. I take pride in not taking my at-bats into the field. Defensively, I think I've been pretty good, and I feel it's getting better.


"It's always a work in progress when they get a new guy. I'm working to get better, and the guys have been great to me. I talked to Woody (Kirk Rueter) after his start, I talked to Tomko today. It's all about getting a feel for what they need to do to get better. We talk about pitch selection between innings all the time."


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...