Pierzynski understands future is fluid
Club's standing may dictate potential free agent's value
CHICAGO -- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski currently stands as a valuable piece of the 2010 White Sox, the same role he has served since 2005, when he helped win a World Series title during his first year on the South Side.
As long as Pierzynski stays with the White Sox, he will remain the team's starting catcher. That point was made abundantly clear by manager Ozzie Guillen prior to Wednesday's game with Tampa Bay. But Pierzynski understands if this team continues to falter, he could be an important trade chip for general manager Ken Williams.
Pierzynski's 10-and-5 rights kick in on June 14, meaning he'll have 10 years in the Majors and five straight with one team, while also possessing veto power over any trade at that point. With Tyler Flowers waiting in the wings and seemingly correcting spring issues with his swing at Triple-A Charlotte, then the free-agent-to-be Pierzynski becomes a veteran candidate to be moved.
"I'm the one guy that they probably can move. I have an expiring contract; they can't trade [Paul] Konerko because he has a full no-trade clause," said Pierzynski during a Wednesday afternoon radio interview on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "They don't really have a lot of other pieces that they would want to trade that are expiring. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but you just never know."
On the day before the 2010 season began, Pierzynski told MLB.com there was nothing to talk about concerning contract extensions with his three-year, $18.35 million deal ending after the present campaign because "nothing has happened. No discussion." Pierzynski wants to stay in Chicago, but if the White Sox don't want him, he plans to play out the year and hope another team takes him.
Guillen sounded a Wednesday warning to Pierzynski, though, about the grass appearing greener with another team. Guillen believes this theory is especially apropos due to the unique player that is the hard-nosed Pierzynski.
"A.J. is not an easy cookie to swallow. OK? He's very happy here," said Guillen of the lifetime .286 hitter, who entered Wednesday's game with an uncharacteristic .182 average. "Be careful what you wish because they are not going to treat him the way we treat him. A.J. has been great for me. Awesome. Awesome.
"But he's not an easy guy to manage or coach. Then I just leave it that way. I love him. I do love him. When A.J. got here, nobody liked him and now we like him a little, little bit more. And that's because of his reputation in the game.
"When I saw him, I loved him. I loved the way he played the game. I loved the way he goes about his business," Guillen said. "People can say whatever they want to say about him. Sometimes I want to kill him. I have more meetings with A.J. Pierzynski since being manager than I've had with anybody in my club. But every time A.J. puts on that uniform, he goes out and kicks some butt."
Ultimately, Pierzynski staying in Chicago probably won't be his decision alone.
Peavy learning the American League
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy began his ninth season in the Majors with an April 7 start against Cleveland, but it marks just his first with the White Sox, and obviously, his first as part of the American League.
Learning the hitters on the opposing teams might end up being as important to the right-hander's in-season improvement as fastball location or the ability to change speeds.
"It's certainly the biggest hurdle to get over in the American League, not having any history," said Peavy, who starts Thursday's series final against the Rays. "Tomorrow night, I have history with almost every one of these guys.
"Me and Scott Linebrink were talking about preparing for a start and how I go about that. And the overriding thing for me is history. When I'm on the mound and see how guys react to my slider, that reaction overrides what I'm going to read or watch on video."
With six career starts, Seattle stands out as the AL team viewed most by Peavy. But the Rangers, whom Peavy faces next week in Texas, have never gone head-to-head with the White Sox ace. That lack of first-hand experience, though, won't be used by Peavy as a reason for his 6.00 ERA over three starts.
"Not having history is tough," Peavy said. "It's no excuse to not get out there and learn and make adjustments on the fly and do well."
Teahen showing discerning batting eye
CHICAGO -- Although Mark Teahen's .242 average still is not at the level of success he envisions, the White Sox third baseman certainly has done his share to contribute to potential rallies. Entering Wednesday's actions, Teahen led the team with nine walks and his .405 on-base percentage was second only to Andruw Jones.
"I definitely have more walks this year than usual at this point," Teahen said. "I'm trying to be selective because my role is to get on base. When I wasn't getting hits, I was still finding ways to get on."
Over the last two years with Kansas City, Teahen recorded 83 walks combined. His on-base percentages were .313 in 2008 and .325 in 2009, but Teahen also was being counted on as more of a run producer with the Royals. With the White Sox, Teahen hits eighth or ninth and is considered more as one of the group than a featured offensive force.
"Maybe it's because I'm not trying to do way too much, especially early, when I was getting the pitch I wanted to hit and not doing what I wanted," Teahen said. "I'm more selective. I've always tried to be patient and wait for my pitch."
Guillen downplays managerial significance
CHICAGO -- The White Sox lineup remained the same after Tuesday's victory, aside from A.J. Pierzynski moving to the fifth slot and Andruw Jones dropping to No. 6. But manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't believe lineup changes are a sign of managerial genius.
"Lineup changes are an excuse for us as to why we make money as a manager. It's a very overrated thing," Guillen said. "That's a powerful thing to do, but it's overrated how you make lineups."
So, what is an underrated factor where managers are concerned, according to Guillen?
"Everything is overrated," said Guillen with a laugh. "You have a good team, they don't need managing. Bad teams need a manager. Good teams just play their games.
"Managers are there to take the heat. They are there to make sure those guys play hard, make sure those guys respect the game and each other."
Third to first
Andruw Jones needs eight more home runs to reach 400 for his career and exited Wednesday as the only White Sox regular above .270 with his .294 average. "He's hungry," said Guillen of Jones. "He showed up in shape. He's got to prove to people he can still play." ... Carlos Quentin is hitless in his last 20 at-bats and has two hits in his last 31. Gordon Beckham has two hits in his last 17 at-bats. Pierzynski has three hits in his last 24 at-bats. ... Starting pitchers facing the White Sox for the first time in their careers are 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA and nine hits allowed this season. ... Mark Buehrle recorded his 69th career pickoff on Wednesday. ... Randy Williams threw 17 pitches to the five batters he faced Wednesday, and only four went for strikes.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.