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A.J. Pierzynski speaks about his reputation as a clubhouse cancer and overall jerkface

Jul 5, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

Barrett Pierzynski Getty Getty Images

A.J. Pierzynski has a reputation as a clubhouse cancer. That’s not just some broad opinion. One of his teammates on the San Francisco Giants actually called him a cancer back in 2004.  Apart from that, he’s always at the top of “most hated” lists and stuff. But Pierzynski wants to set the record straight:

“Basically one guy came out and said that.”

I brought up Brett Tomko, the Giants pitcher who has long been associated with throwing Pierzynski under the bus.

“Well, he says he didn’t,” Pierzynski said. “But I know Matt Herges, he said some things, some other guys said some things…you know, they have their right, and one of the things I was accused of was getting the other team signs. Anyone that knows me, I would never in a million years give the other team, tell the other team what’s coming.

Well, the sign thing is just a narrow part of it. Pierzynski has a longstanding reputation, even among guys who sorta like him, that he’s kind of a jerk. Oh well. At least he tends to own it. He’s not under any delusions that he’s loved.

I think the most interesting part of the story is that Hawk Harrelson basically lobbied Kenny Williams to sign Pierzynski. So you have him to thank or blame, depending on your point of view.

  1. xsherr - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Call him what you will, but he can flat out play ball.

  2. pisano - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    I think Marty Barrett pretty much gave his opinion on A.J being a jerk or cancer, wadda ya think?

    • jdd428 - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      Where’s Marty Barrett today? I’ll tell you where he’s not – in the majors having one of the best seasons among catchers this year.

      • jdd428 - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM

        I mean Michael Barrett. Sorry, the original post threw me off.

      • pisano - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        My mistake, thanks.

  3. kkolchak - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    A.J. will always be loved among Pale Hose fans for being a big catalyst that finally brought the team its World Series title. Clearly, the White Sox organization must like him or at least tolerate him as he’s been there eight years now. If he really was a “cancer” he’d have been gone long ago.

    And anyway, didn’t Crash Davis give the other team signs? :)

    • delawarephilliesfan - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      “didn’t Crash Davis give the other team signs? ”

      Yes, Nuke LaLouche shook him off – and it was solely for the purpose of teachim him to NOT think on the mound, just use his raw talent and throw. So it wasn’t with ill intent, and both times the game was well out of hand.

      Just sayin’……

    • Kevin Gillman - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      Jake Taylor did too, come to think of it. And those hitters STILL couldn’t touch Rick Vaughn’s Fastball.

  4. mydadyourmom - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Who cares? I’m sure his current teammates like havin him around.

  5. jjschiller - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    “One guy came out and said it… Might have been Tomko. I think it was Herges. But coulda been lotsa other guys. I mean, everbody thinks I’m an asshat. But yeah, just that one guy didn’t like me.”

  6. ccmf69 - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    I was glad to see him leave SF…

    • frightwig - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      Of course, A.J. posted an 86 OPS+ that year with the Giants (significantly beneath his numbers with the Twins), local media spread gossip that he wouldn’t work with his pitchers and once even kneed a Giants trainer in the balls (probably apocryphal, but never mind), and Giants closer Matt Herges was terrible while the reliever Brian Sabean gave up in the Pierzynski deal, Joe Nathan, was already a terrific closer for the Twins. The Giants also lost the division to that Dodgers by just 2 games, which made A.J. and that trade even bigger targets of blame. It’s no wonder that Giants fans were happy to see him go.

      It’s also worth noting that the Giants actually got worse at Catcher with Mike Matheny in 2005-6, and the team pitching staff’s ERA+ also declined, while Pierzynski helped the White Sox win a World Series in a year when he caught the best pitching staff in the league.

    • kkolchak - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      As a White Sox fan, so was I. 😉

  7. blackandbluedivision - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Everybody hates this man except anybody on the southside of Chicago. The guy has been here 8 years.

    Ozzie Guillen, summed up the situation as, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

    • petey1999 - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      LOL. What a great quote.

  8. kjkulsrud - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    As a hardcore Twins fan I have first hand knowledge of AJ… personally I applaude him every time he comes to the plate at Target Field… he fetched us a pretty nice hand in the trade to San Fran (Nathan, Liriano, Bonser) and while he is a “jerkface”, he is also known as a great guy to have on your team.

    One of those, if he’s on your team, you love him being a little bit of a jerk to the other team… if he’s on the other team, you have to hate him…

    • blackandbluedivision - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      That was a pretty sweet deal. Except we got the ring.

      • ezthinking - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        Not with AJ, unless you’re talking about the White Sox who picked up AJ as a FA for 2005 and their WS ring.

      • blackandbluedivision - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Yep. I am.

      • mplsjoe - Jul 5, 2012 at 9:20 PM

        The WS’ ring had nothing to do with that trade.

      • blackandbluedivision - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:23 AM

        Yea exactly. I’m just saying. You got a pretty awesome group of players for Pierzynski in hopes of a title. Yet, he ends up with a division rival and wins the ring that the Twinkies are still hunting for.

      • wineasart - Jul 6, 2012 at 7:18 AM

        Hey backandblue, Twins got two(rings that is).

      • blackandbluedivision - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Because of this deal?! No.

    • ftbramwell - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      Dude, unless you’re a professional athlete or a personal, you do not have “first hand knowledge of AJ.” You may know a lot about him based on what you hear in the media. But your status as a “hardcore Twins fan” doesn’t give you “firsthand knowledge.”

  9. billymc75 - Jul 5, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    You left out cry baby as well

  10. gabeguterres - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    I remember hearing it was Jason Schmidt who called him a “cancer.” It seems he’d have a little more credibility than, say … Herges. What with the not sucking and everything.

  11. comeonnowguys - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I respect that he owns the whole jerkass thing. Always have.

    However, you can’t be that guy and make snide comments about the “political” nature of All-Star selections. Lie in the bed you’ve made, AJ–it’s not that bad in the scheme of things.

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