Baseball / Sports

Pierzynski didn't want season to 'end with a bad taste'

CHICAGO -- Interest in A.J. Pierzynski as a complement to catcher Tony Cruz started a couple weeks ago, but it was only the urgency of another team moving to sign him that made the Cardinals move Friday to complete a deal.

Pierzynski, a left-handed bat released by Boston earlier this month, was the subject of Cardinals internal evaluations and research for more than a week before they signed him officially Saturday morning. The club had George Kottaras on the roster and wanted to take the time to do what general manager John Mozeliak called "the due diligence" of seeing whether Pierzynski was a fit.

On Friday it became clear that he was going to sign somewhere this weekend.

"If we wanted it to be us we had to move," Mozeliak said.

Pierzynski was in Cooperstown, N.Y., with his family as a guest of Frank Thomas for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Pierzynski's family remained back in New York to attend this weekend's ceremonies, while Pierzynski packed with former White Sox teammate Jermaine Dye looking on. Pierzynski took a two-hour cab ride from Cooperstown to Albany, N.Y., to get a flight to Chicago and be ready to start Saturday.

He has faced Shelby Miller but never caught him.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said it was important for him to talk with Pierzynski on Friday before the deal was finalized to make sure that Pierzynski still wanted to play and would be a fit for the clubhouse. Pierzynski has a reputation that arrives two steps ahead of him -- one of the most-loathed players by opponents but loved by some of the teams he's been on. Boston was not one. Players anonymously carped about Pierzynski's presence in the clubhouse and attitude after the Red Sox had released him.

That ended is part of what fueled Pierzynski to find a new beginning.

"I definitely wanted to play this year because I didn't want to end with a bad taste in my mouth after Boston," he said Saturday morning during a chat with the media at Wrigley Field. "I wanted to find a place to play. I didn't want to end like that. I didn't want to end the season, I didn't want to end anything like that."

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