10/09/2002 11:58 PM ET
MLBeat: Pierzynski pushing buttons
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Off the field, Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski seems to be one of the more laid-back players in the game. On the field, he tends to get under his opponents' skin, which has drawn some ire.
Whether he's at or behind the plate, he's always talking, smiling or both. Apparently, it's pushing some buttons on opposing teams. During the ALDS, a few Oakland players ripped Pierzynski through the media.
"Sometimes I talk to myself a lot, especially on the field," Pierzynski said. "On the field and off the field, I'm kind of a different person. Sometimes, I say things to myself that are misconstrued."
Harsh comments about the 2002 All-Star that can't be misconstrued are from A's reliever Billy Koch, who surrendered a two-run, ninth-inning homer to Pierzynski to help seal Oakland's losing fate in Game 5.
"He's a jackass," a sour Koch told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published Tuesday. "Hopefully, Anaheim kicks the [tar] out of them."
Pierzynski says he didn't know he had problems with some players, although he was aware of the Koch comments.
"I don't know Billy Koch, but I know we used to have the same agent, so we have similar tastes or something," Pierzynski said. "We still have the same company representing us. We're from the same area [Long Island, New York]. So maybe it's the New Yorker coming out [in] him, I don't know."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire took offense to Koch's remarks, but said he could see why some teams take offense to Pierzynski's style.
"I think that A.J. plays the game very hard," Gardenhire said. "The way he swings, the way he goes about the game -- he hustles, he runs, he's an emotional player. Some guys can't handle that. We've all played against guys who you want to knock their blocks off until they're on your own team. A.J. is one of those guys."
Gardenhire said he likes it when Pierzynski irritates players on the other side.
"Actually, it's entertaining for me to watch guys get mad at him," he said. "Then I know it's taking away from their game."
"I don't do anything purposely," Pierzynski said. "I just want to play and win. That's the bottom line."
Rivas report: Twins second baseman Luis Rivas has been not quite 100 percent during the playoffs. He has a sore hamstring from Game 4 of the ALDS and is still dealing with the effects of a sore hand that was fractured in the second game of the season. Sometimes, the right hand comes off his bat, if it hurts while swinging.
Gardenhire said that Rivas is OK. The hand has been an ongoing issue all season. The manager was mainly concerned about the hamstring.
"He wants to play," Gardenhire said. "It looks like he was running fine [Tuesday] night. We didn't see any signs from his hamstring."
Rivas was 1-for-4 in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Angels in the Game 2 of the ALCS. He was picked off of first base in the third inning and grounded into a double play in the fifth inning.
Washburn plans: Although tough Angels lefty Jarrod Washburn is scheduled to face the Twins in Friday's Game 3, Gardenhire does not plan to alter his lineup too much.
Gardenhire is sticking with lefty hitters Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie, Doug Mientkiewicz and Pierzynski. The one change is that righty Matthew LeCroy will start at DH for lefty-hitting David Ortiz.
Jones was 0-for-5 vs. Anaheim on Wednesday, and 0-for-9 in the series, but that isn't changing the manager's mind.
"Jacque is getting after it, he's missing some pitches right now," Gardenhire said. "He'll get rolling. No, I won't take him out against Washburn, he'll be facing him. He's our left fielder. He plays very well out there. He'll get some hits. He's a good player. Jacque has been there all year for us. I don't think you give up on our guys right now."
Jones hit .300 during the season and isn't panicking.
"If I was perfect, I'd be hitting 1.000," Jones said. "I'm going to make some outs. I haven't stopped going out and playing. I'm not quitting. I'm going to keep swinging and whatever happens, happens."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.