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White Sox-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

A.J. Pierzynski's first interaction with his former club wasn't very pleasant.

He may be in the lineup against the Chicago White Sox for the first time Thursday night, when the Texas Rangers attempt to remain the only team in the majors to avoid losing a series.

Pierzynski spent eight seasons with the White Sox (11-15), playing a vital role in helping them win the 2005 World Series.

The former All-Star left Chicago for Texas (17-10) via free agency in December, and he's hitting .360 in eight home games.

He wasn't very happy with his first meeting with the White Sox after soreness and bruising to his side kept him out of Tuesday's 10-6 win in the opener of this three-game set.

In a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-2 loss, Pierzynski was hit by a pitch from closer Addison Reed. The fiery catcher reacted by flipping his bat away and saying a few words before staring at Reed on his way to first - and even more after getting there.

"I'm sure he was just trying to pitch me in and it got away," Pierzynski said diplomatically afterward.

The catcher may start Thursday as Texas tries to avoid its first series loss this season, and he was scheduled to see a familiar face on the mound in former batterymate Jake Peavy. But the White Sox scratched the right-hander Thursday afternoon due to back spasms and will instead send Hector Santiago to the hill for his season debut.

Santiago (0-1, 2.51 ERA) has made seven appearances out of the bullpen this season, and he didn't allow a run in the first six. The left-hander gave up four and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings Saturday against Tampa Bay, however.

Santiago has made two relief appearances against Texas, pitching one scoreless inning in each.

Though this is just his fifth major league start, he's pitched fairly well in that role. Santiago went 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his first four late last season, striking out 26 in 19 1-3 innings.

The Rangers counter with rookie Justin Grimm (2-0, 1.59), who has won his last two starts while yielding two runs - one earned - and yielding 11 hits with 13 strikeouts in 13 innings.

"The name of the game is trusting my stuff," Grimm told the team's official website "It's not just the stuff, it's just a mindset. It's not trying for the strikeout or trying to do too much but just trusting my stuff out there."

The right-hander certainly did that Friday, scattering five hits in seven scoreless innings of a 4-3 win at Minnesota.

"I just want to pitch for this team, whether it's in the rotation or not," Grimm said. "I want to prove that I belong here. That's the whole idea."

It seems like he'll get that chance since Matt Harrison had a setback in his recovery from surgery on a herniated disk in his lower back, and needs a second operation in nine days.

Grimm, though, was tagged for three runs with three strikeouts and two walks in the final three innings of a 19-2 road loss to the White Sox on July 3.

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