Pierzynski’s act starting to wear thin on White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) - For once, A.J. Pierzynski may actually care what somebody else thinks about him.

The superbrat catcher of the Chicago White Sox creates controversy on a seemingly daily basis with his brazen approach to the game, treading on the toes of opponents both metaphorically and literally. Even his current manager says he is not a good guy.

On Tuesday, Pierzynski added to his resume when he apparently tried to spike Minnesota’s Justin Morneau in a rundown.

In the past, Pierzynski has thrived on the criticism he attracts. But with his name in the headlines more often than usual this season, he is worried his teammates may be running out of patience.

As he dealt with the fallout from his latest misdemeanor, Pierzynski admitted his welcome in Chicago could be wearing out.

“Of course, I’d love to stay here,” he said. “It’s not ultimately my decision. I don’t want other (stuff) to factor in instead of just baseball. That’s the thing that bothers me more than anything.

“I can handle it, I can handle whatever has been said. I can handle people talking (trash) or whatever, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve pretty much had it all said or written about me anyway.”

Pierzynski apologized for his sixth-inning collision with Morneau but - in his own inimitable style - insisted he did not intend to hurt the American League MVP.

“Let’s be honest here - if I’m going to go out of my way to try to get somebody, I’ll get them,” he said. “One thing about me, if I’m going to get them, I’ll get them.”

Pierzynski causing trouble in Minnesota was no surprise, of course. He began his career here before being traded to San Francisco for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser in one of the most lopsided deals in recent history.

After one year with the Giants that included a handful of disagreements with resident slugger Barry Bonds, Pierzynski moved on to Chicago, helping the White Sox win the 2005 World Series.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen - himself an abrasive sort - defended his catcher, but recent events suggest even he has grown weary of Pierzynski.

The two have clashed more than once this month alone. Three weeks ago, Guillen admitted to reporters he finds Pierzynski “hard to manage.”

“I feel proud of that kid every day because he shows up to win,” Guillen said. “Is he a good guy? No. But I love him. He knows I love him. I’ve got a hate-love for him. “He respects me, he respects my ballclub, he gives us a headache every day. A good one, though. Because he wants to do good. He wants the ballclub to do good.”

During an interleague matchup against the rival Cubs - a series that evoked memories of Pierzynski’s infamous clash with Cubs counterpart Michael Barrett last year in which he was punched in the face - Pierzynski publicly ripped Guillen for leaving him out of the lineup in favor of backup Toby Hall.

Guillen heard the interview while heading to Wrigley Field and soon on the phone to radio station The Score, offering an emphatic, expletive-laced response. The manager stormed into the visiting clubhouse and reportedly told a security guard to “get A.J. the (expletive) out of my office.”

Such fireworks seem par for the course when personalities such as Pierzynski and Guillen are asked to work together. But how much longer will the show go on?

Pierzynski’s radio outburst triggered a feeling among teammates that he was more trouble than he was worth. Some players felt Pierzynski had disrespected Hall with his comments.

If such feelings linger, and the White Sox fail to get themselves back into the American League Central Division race, Pierzynski could find his name in trade rumors. That realization has hit Pierzynski hard.

“I just don’t want (all this) to be a deterrent from me staying here for a long time because I really like it here,” he said Tuesday.


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Updated Wednesday, May 30, 2007