The last time A.J. Pierzynski played his last potential home game at U.S. Cellular Field, the circumstances lent themselves to prioritizing heart over head.
Back in 2010, Pierzynski's home finale was the very last game of the season, and the Sox had already been eliminated. That being the case, the Sox could stage a brief pregame tribute and a postgame speech, and Ozzie Guillen could ceremoniously remove him from the game in between. The fans had ample opportunity to applaud Pierzynski one last time, if it were the last time.
Obviously that wasn't the case, because Pierzynski found himself in a similar situation on Sunday. The sequel lacked the charm of the original. Pierzynski came to the plate in the ninth inning with the Sox trailing 6-2. A standing ovation was scattered about the stands as he came to the plate, but Pierzynski went down flailing for the penultimate out of a devastating loss. That put fans in the awkward position of applauding an ugly strikeout, and Pierzynski was in no mood for a salute. That's par for the course right now, because Sox fans have had little to erupt about over the last two weeks.
After the game, Pierzynski had time to properly reflect:
"Like I said earlier in the season, I packed my house up once, I packed it up for a second time,’’ he said of previous close calls when he almost parted ways with the Sox. "It’s becoming old hat now. I would love to come back and finish my career here, but at the same time, I know how baseball works. Maybe we can work something out. If not, I’ll always look back fondly on my time here and appreciate it. I love the city of Chicago. I love the fans here. I love the people here. I love the organization, and you’ll never hear me say anything bad about them.’’
The in-house replacement, Tyler Flowers, followed suit, extolling his virtues and the relationship they have developed (if it exists, it wasn't always there). But he also said that he's serious about the idea of playing winter ball to receive steady at-bats, in case he gets the opportunity play every day.
Flowers is 2-for-16 in September, and currently stuck in an 0-for-9 slump ... over the last three weeks.
- Sox fail to draw two million fans this season - ESPN Chicago
- Pierzynski's swan song at the Cell? - chicagotribune.com
See if you can spot the difference between reports of the Sox's dropping attendance. First, Scott Powers:
"We’re happy they came out," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of the team’s fans after Sunday’s game. "When they come out, they’re very supportive and loud. We appreciate that."
And then Dave Van Dyck:
Manager Robin Ventura was as polite as possible when discussing the turnout.
"We're happy they came out," he said, without a trace of sarcasm. "When they come out, they're very supportive and loud and we appreciate that."
- Paul Konerko to undergo hand surgery after season - ESPN Chicago
- Hitting coach trusts Konerko to bounce back - ESPN Chicago
Neither Paul Konerko nor Jeff Manto are pinning his massive slump on physical problems, but there's no doubt that this season has been a painful one in a number of ways.
Konerko praised Ventura for the way he commanded respect in the clubhouse in his first year, although this quote doesn't sound particularly flattering at the moment:
"We’re really doing nothing different today or the last few days than we were doing in April, May. To me, that’s the biggest credit to a manager. When you have all the guys buying into 162 games, that’s hard to get 25 men on the same page for that along of time, let alone we’ve had almost 40 guys up here. To having everybody buying into something like that, it means you carry a lot weight. You have some respect."
Hector Santiago has his eyes set on a starting job, although it sounds like he'd be happy in long relief next year if it means he's not being bounced around on from role to role. Of course, if Santiago keeps walking five batters per nine innings, he'll be fortunate to stick in the majors, period.
- Peavy may be his own agent in contract talks - Inside the White Sox
- Hudson not ready to hang it up yet - Chicago White Sox Blog - ESPN Chicago
In other soon-to-be free agent news, Jake Peavy's longtime agent, Barry Axelrod, can no longer represent him after taking a position in the Arizona Diamondbacks' front office. Also, Orlando Hudson still thinks he's an everyday player.
The answer to a recent trivia question on the scoreboard at U.S. Cellular Field, John Whitehead also had problems managing his eating habits, as Chris Lamberti explains.