Postgame interview with A.J. Pierzynski
Chicago catcher slugged two homers in ALDS Game 1 win
Q. A.J., how big was it for you guys as a team to get off to the start you did in the fifth inning, and maybe take a little of the edge off?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: It was big for Jose [Contreras], more than the rest of us, I think. I had more than one guy come up to me and say, "I was a little nervous that first inning."
It was big. Jose was huge getting through David [Ortiz] and Manny [Ramirez] and getting those two guys out, it sent a message. It gave him confidence, and from there, he got on a roll and took over.
Q. Pretty glad that the [bunt] attempt went foul?
PIERZYNSKI: Yeah, but I was trying to take advantage of the situation. The guy on third, two outs, and [Kevin] Millar was climbing way back, and I was trying to get a cheapie. It went foul and worked out. Maybe something different would have happened, but it worked out.
Q. A.J., yesterday Ozzie [Guillen] had said he wasn't going to let Ortiz beat him. You had second base open in Ortiz's first at-bat and you went after him. Can you talk about how Contreras worked there and what your approach was?
PIERZYNSKI: Our approach there was, "Let's go get them." It was the first inning and first game, and we'll see what happens. Jose made some great pitches. He pitched him in and away, he moved the ball around. He did everything and then he got him and Manny. He jammed Manny, might have broke his bat, and got him to hit a ground ball to third. Those guys are as good a 1-2 [combination] as there is in the league. It was really big for Jose.
Q. Can you talk about the difference of having some playoff games under your belt, compared to a lot of your teammates, for example?
PIERZYNSKI: It's nice. It means that I've done it before, but it doesn't mean you don't get a little excited. You still get some butterflies, but I was just laughing, because the guys come up to you and say, "My hands and legs are shaking," I kind of laugh. I have been there. The first [postseason game] I ever played in, we made four errors in the first inning, and we fell behind big. It gives you a little bit of a help when you know what to expect. You expect a big crowd and you kind of find a way to focus in and control your emotions.
Q. How important was it to get into their bullpen early and conserve your bullpen at the same time?
PIERZYNSKI: It meant we were in the lead. With all the off-days in the postseason, it was big to get some of the guys in the game. We got them in and got them through innings and got them to get some outs. Jose was confident. I'm sure some other guys will have their opportunity also.
Q. A.J., the play [Tadahito] Iguchi made to get [Kevin] Millar, is that kind of an example of the little things you guys have done?
PIERZYNSKI: I think, personally, that was the biggest play of the game. They had a lot of momentum going. Ozzie came out and said something to him in Spanish, and then he got that play, and it was a great play, not only by Iguchi, but by Crede. It wasn't a great throw, and Joe picked it. It stopped their momentum. They had some going, and it kind of shut them down, and we were able to answer right back with [Juan] Uribe's home run. That was probably the biggest play of the game, stopping the Red Sox's momentum.
Q. I couldn't see in the dugout after Scott [Podsednik's] homer. Did you give him the silent treatment? I think that's standard. And were you surprised at the number of curtain calls?
PIERZYNSKI: Yeah, I thought those were only for Paulie [Konerko] in the stadium. He's the king and usually hits them all. He didn't get the silent treatment. We have been telling him all year he's going to hit one. He waited for the right time. I couldn't be happier for Scott. He put pressure on them. That's what he does. The best leadoff guy in the game is right there.
Q. A.J., is that the first time you've tried to bunt for a hit, and how often have you done it in your career?
PIERZYNSKI: It's not the first time. I can't run very well, but every once in a while, I can sneak one. When I was with Minnesota, Kelly used to preach it to us, "Take an easy RBI." I looked up, and Millar was climbing way back, I was counting on getting a fastball, and Clement threw me a little slider. I was kind of mad at myself because it would have been an easy run for us, but it worked out.
Q. A.J., can you describe the evolution of Jose's presence from your vantage point from the beginning of the year to now?
PIERZYNSKI: When we first had Spring Training, [pitching coach Don Cooper] and I talked a lot about him picking up the pace, trying to get him to use the fastball more. It's not like he's throwing it up there at 85 [mph]. He's up to 95, 96 mph. Through the course of the year, it's slowly going up. Having El Duque [Hernandez] here, it's given him confidence. He remembered what he did back in Cuba, and he's brought that back, and once the All-Star Game passed, the first game [back, he pitched a] 1-0 shutout. ... He's been incredible since then.
Q. Offensively, where does this game rank for Uribe, and how important is that?
PIERZYNSKI: One through nine, we have a pretty solid lineup. Uribe hit 15 home runs this year, Crede hit 20-something. We believe those guys can get it done. I think it was his first playoff game. It's a big confidence booster for them, especially their first at-bat and first game. It will definitely carry over. Again, it's only one game.
Q. A.J., with all this talk about small-ball, what do those five home runs say about your lineup?
PIERZYNSKI: It says we hit five home runs in the game. It doesn't mean anything for tomorrow. These guys aren't going to quit or go away. They've done things that are very special. It means we hit five home runs today. David Wells is going to come out and try to [shut us down] tomorrow, and we have to bring the same intensity and try to do it again.
Q. Thank you very much.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.