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Thursday, January 17, 2019

AJ Pierzynski was reportedly a ‘dark cloud’ over Red Sox

AJ-Pierzynski-Red-SoxThe Boston Red Sox designated catcher AJ Pierzynski for assignment on Wednesday. Hours later, they erased a four-run deficit against the Chicago White Sox to walk off with a win. Coincidence? The team doesn’t want you to think so.

According to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, players had approached both the Red Sox coaches and front office about the “negative influence” Pierzynski was having on the team. The 37-year-old veteran, who is not very well liked around the league and has had problems with teammates in the past, apparently had become a problem in the clubhouse.

It should be noted that one player can’t be defined as the downfall of this Red Sox team to date, but it was tough to ignore the voices throughout the home clubhouse in the aftermath of the team’s 5-4 walkoff victory over the White Sox, which described an entirely different dugout environment than there had been up through Tuesday. Over the course of a season, there are few times such proclamations are made, but this was unmistakably one of those rarities.

The Red Sox might rattle off 10 straight losses, leading to many of the same players who were celebrating Wednesday’s win being shipped out of town. But the facts are the facts, and the facts are that this one player was identified as a dark cloud that had just been lifted by multiple members of what is perceived as one of baseball’s most tight-knit groups.

Bradford also said he was told that Pierzynski often seemed more interested in looking at his phone in the locker room than working with Boston’s pitching staff, even when one pitcher was an “emotional wreck” after being pulled early from a start.

The Red Sox knew Pierzynski was a jerk, but they didn’t want to pay to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia. John Farrell says the Red Sox moved on from Pierzynski because of his struggles at the plate (.254 average), but Barry Petchesky of Deadspin made a good point when noting that the Bradford story seems like another Red Sox smear campaign. Especially this part:

It became obvious to those in the clubhouse fairly early on that this might be an oil-and-water situation. Pierzynski’s personality wasn’t conducive to the Red Sox’ way of doing things, saying what he wanted when he wanted without much regard for the greater good. From the dugout, he would yell across the field at the opposition, or ridicule umpires during replay challenges. It made many cringe. This wasn’t the Red Sox way, the one that a World Series run had been built on.

Less than a month ago, David Ortiz pointed toward the Fenway Park scorekeeper in the middle of a game and gave him the thumbs down because he thought an error should have been ruled a hit. Big Papi later vented to reporters about how he got screwed, despite the fact that Boston had just come away with a walk-off win. Was that the “Red Sox’ way of doing things?”

I’m not saying Pierzynski is Ortiz. What I am saying is the Red Sox knew exactly the type of player and personality they were getting when they brought the veteran backstop on board. It sure seems like Pierzynski is being used as a scapegoat for what has been a disappointing season thus far.

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