Pierzynski adds no-hitter to resume
White Sox catcher thrilled to be a part of Buehrle's gem
CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski gets booed by opposing fans. That piece of breaking news is about as startling as the sun sets at night and Christina Applegate is attractive.
Actually, Pierzynski endures their jeers quite frequently, as in every city the White Sox visit. In every at-bat, and pretty much through every inning.
There are times at other ballparks when it seems as if fans don't even know why they are booing Pierzynski. There doesn't seem to be a logical connection between the controversial White Sox catcher and the venom hurled in his direction.
But as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen often jokes, the doctor booed Pierzynski when he was born.
Like him, as many of the White Sox fans seem to do, or dislike him, one fact about Pierzynski can't be denied. His body of work can be stacked up against any of the elite catchers in baseball.
Pierzynski, 30, is a two-time All-Star and a .288 career hitter. He has started for playoff teams in Minnesota, a playoff contender in San Francisco and the first World Series champion in Chicago in almost nine decades.
There's also the current responsibility of handling one of baseball's best starting rotations, with five talented hurlers featuring very different repertoires. As of Wednesday night, Pierzynski joined the exclusive club of catchers who have caught no-hitters.
His effort as part of Buehrle's masterpiece seemed to mean as much to Pierzynski as it did to the left-handed pitcher making baseball history.
"It's special in that it's something that isn't really planned," said Pierzynski prior to Thursday's series finale with Texas. "You don't count on it happening.
"You can't plan for it or be ready for it. It's just something that happens on the spur of the moment. It's amazing that it happened with Mark and the way it happened. I couldn't be happier for anyone."
While Wednesday and Thursday's collective focus fell primarily on Buehrle after his 106-pitch gem, Pierzynski received well-deserved plaudits for his contribution. Buehrle is a pitcher who likes to get into a rhythm on the mound and then work quickly throughout a given night.
For that plan to work in more than just theory, Buehrle has to have complete trust in the game called by his batterymate. Buehrle and Pierzynski had that working relationship fine-tuned on Wednesday.
"A lot of responsibility goes on the catcher," said Buehrle of Pierzynski. "Yeah, I'm the one that threw the no-hitter, but he called it and I didn't shake him off one time. Location-wise, whatever finger he put down, I threw it. So, he gets a lot of credit also."
"I didn't want to put the wrong fingers down and screw him up," Pierzynski added. "I was trying to get him through."
When asked if Buehrle's no-hitter featured a playoff-like atmosphere, Pierzynski pointed out the major difference with so much being on the line in every postseason contest. On an individual level, though, the excitement level is very similar.
Wednesday's celebration not only was the early highlight of the White Sox season, but also the most spine-tingling moment for all of baseball in 2007. And Pierzynski once again can lay claim to being part of something special.
There certainly were no boos thrown in Pierzynski's general direction after Buehrle's final pitch, a sound the White Sox catcher probably hears in his sleep at this point.
To be completely honest, though, Pierzynski doesn't really care about winning a popularity contest across baseball's public forum.
"That's just part of the game and what I deal with," Pierzynski said. "I can't change people's feelings or people's opinion. I can just do the best I can and try to help this team win. That's what it's all about, trying to win games.
"What people think of me, it isn't my concern. I have other problems to worry about than that."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.