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Robin Ventura wants A.J. Pierzynski batting second? Seriously?

Mar 4, 2012, 7:34 PM EDT

A.J. Pierzynski Getty Images

Prepare for the White Sox offense to be a mess again.

New manager Robin Ventura said Saturday that he wants A.J. Pierzynski hitting second after Alejandro De Aza this season.

“He handles the bat great,” Ventura said. “He’s always a tough out. Not that he steals a lot of bases, but he handles the bat and does the appropriate things. He’s one of those guys who will hook it if you have to or put it the other way if they shift on him.”

Despite the fact that he practically never walks, Pierzynski has usually been a pretty good hitter. Even as a 34-year-old last season, he hit .287/.323/.405 in 464 at-bats. It’s also sort of admirable to see Ventura completely dismiss the speed component as a qualification for batting second.

What Ventura is completely overlooking here, though, is Pierzynski’s tendency to ground into double plays. Only eight major leaguers with 3,000 career plate appearances have grounded into double plays at a higher frequency than Pierzynski and most of them have gotten to hit with more men on base. For all of his great “bat handling,” Pierzynski has killed a whole bunch of rallies in his career.

And as it turns out, Ventura thinks Pierzynski hitting second is so important to the White Sox that he’s going to let it dictate who bats third.

“Once you put A.J. second, you don’t want to follow with Paulie (Konerko) and Adam (Dunn),” Ventura said. “Get somebody in there who can outrun them.”

Alex Rios, come on down!

  1. mikeincmn - Mar 4, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    I know its incredibly early and thus probably isn’t fair for me to say just yet, but as nice of a guy as Ventura may be, I still fail to see how he got the job on anything other than good old boys club workings. Nothing against the guy and I know the franchise and team is being strip mined by Williams, but surely you can configure a somewhat logical line up no matter how average to bad most of your roster will be.

    AJ probably shouldnt be starting, much less batting in a the freaking 2 hole.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 5, 2012 at 6:42 AM

      Nothing Ventura-ed nothing gained. Hold your nose and hope it is just a spring training experiment.

  2. Gonzo - Mar 4, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    He should meet with Nolan Ryan, who could knock some sense into him.

  3. visnovsky - Mar 4, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    Being able to “handle the bat” is the stupidest ‘compliment’ a manager can hand out. It means absolutely nothing to winning ball games and is just an excuse for the manager to make a stupid, boneheaded decision.

    • thetruth113 - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:13 PM

      A guy with a .323 OBP is a tough out? Ventura is setting bar really, really low. I can’t wait to hear his praise of Adam Dunn’s ability to put the ball in play

      • jfegan - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:29 PM

        Uh, have you gotten a load of the OBP’s for the other guys in the lineup?

      • ptfu - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:00 PM


        The Sox don’t have anyone THAT much better than Pierzynski to hit 2nd. So that makes Ventura only a little crazy. His true insanity is shown when he says that Pierzynski hitting 2nd somehow means Konerko and Dunn can’t hit 3rd-4th because of their speed…

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      I can’t stand ballplayers that don’t know how to hold the bat. They try to hit the ball with their forearms…the whole thing’s just a damned mess.

  4. frankvzappa - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Considering all the attention lately about how blows to the head can adversely affect the long-term mental faculties of the athletes who experience said blows, it is surprising nobody saw decisions like this coming.

  5. jason1214 - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Something tells me Ventura was the only guy, KWill could could get to manage that horror show of a roster sans Konerko, Beckham, Danks, Ramirez & Floyd of course…

    • jwbiii - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:05 AM

      And we’re not too sure about Beckham.

      • jason1214 - Mar 5, 2012 at 7:09 PM

        Agreed, but I’d still rather have Beckham, than Rios

    • jlove42 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      Any roster sans Beckham is a better roster.

      I also think that batting Rios 3rd is an even worse mistake than putting AJ at 2nd.

      • jason1214 - Mar 5, 2012 at 7:10 PM

        Really? Cub would love to take him off your hands and plug him @2nd. I agree Rios batting 3rd is HORRIBLE.

      • jlove42 - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:43 PM

        You can have him, plug him wherever you want. I’d love to see Beckham playing for you guys up there. To me, it looks like he has Adam Dunn’s plate approach minus the ability to still draw walks.

  6. christos99 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:27 AM

    With Ventura’s plan, you’ll see this scenario play out often:
    Leadoff batter De Aza = single
    2nd, A.J.= GDP
    3rd, Paulie = double
    4th, Adam Done = K
    Inning over…

  7. vincentbojackson - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    AJ doesn’t need to be fast. You don’t need speed to walk back to the dugout from second base after watching Dunn strikeout on three pitches.

  8. skeleteeth - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Hopefully he’ll get hit more.

  9. deathmonkey41 - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Maybe batting AJ second is the key to beating Bruce Chen and Ozzie missed it?

  10. jlove42 - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    AJ batting 2nd is a fairly garbage lineup move that pales in comparison to giving Alex Rios and his 2011 .227/265/.348 the 3rd spot in the lineup because he’s faster than Konerko (!!). Great, give Konerko less at-bats on the season because he’s slower than Rios, even though he makes Rios look like a little leaguer at the plate.

    So what is the over/under on percentage of 1st innings that Konerko won’t bat in this season if this De Aza, Pierzynski, Rios thing happens?

  11. jasonc2300 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    It’s easy snark, but let’s be honest here: if Dunn, Rios, and Beckham don’t bounce back at least a little, it doesn’t really matter who bats where.

  12. ultimatehitcoach - Mar 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    the best way to go is to get a.j. involved is by putting him up in the order. when he’s down, he’s an absolute idiot. the bad news is he is a great dp guy. gordy bacon makes contact so infrequently he is not a good choice either. he’s an 8 or 9. to put more pressure on him to make contact..bad.
    before opening day, you can pencil in anybody anywhere in the lineup or rotation.but the reality is EVERYONE will earn their way to wherever they end up.. be it #2 hitter, or #5 in the rotation. the likelihood that everyone will end up where they’re expected to end up.. NOT. some will surprise, some will disappoint.
    everyone will play themselves into the exact place they deserve to be. time spent on conjecture & speculation at this time wasted. never mind.
    it will be what it will be. what that is, no one can say with anything degree of certainty. other than adam dunn will not have a uniform by june1

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