MLB: Rangers sign Pierzynski, say he’ll be starter
ARLINGTON, Texas — A.J. Pierzynski can joke with Texas manager Ron Washington about last season’s All-Star snub now that he’s the starting catcher for the Rangers.
They shared a laugh over lunch a few days before Wednesday’s announcement that Pierzynski’s one-year free agent contract with Texas was complete. Both considered the All-Star issue dead after it happened in July, even though Pierzynski had a cryptic retort when Washington explained the difficulty of the decision.
“Everybody keeps trying to make a big deal out of it, but I’ve known Wash for a really long time,” Pierzynski said. “It’s not going to change the way I feel about Ron Washington because I know what he’s done in this game and I know where he stands and what he’s all about. It’s over and done with for me.”
Washington said Pierzynski will be the primary catcher, pushing Geovany Soto to the backup role after he re-signed as a free agent. Pierzynski hit .278 with a career-high 27 home runs in 135 games for the Chicago White Sox, while Soto took a pay cut after hitting .196 in 47 games following a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
Pierzynski, a two-time All-Star who has been to the playoffs four times and won the 2005 World Series with the White Sox, has long been known as an irritant to opposing players and even someone who didn’t always please his teammates either. Washington says he always felt otherwise.
“I always loved him; I never hated him,” Washington said. “I always loved him because he always believed he did anything and everything he had to do to try to beat you. I admired that.”
Terms of Pierzynski’s deal weren’t disclosed. He is a .284 career hitter in 1,629 games with the White Sox (2005-12), San Francisco (2004) and Minnesota (1998-2003). He could also play some designated hitter. He caught 121 games last year, leads and all active players with 1,559 games as a catcher and doesn’t see a need to slow down even though he turns 36 on Sunday.
“Physically, I feel awesome,” said Pierzynski, who matched his career high with 77 RBIs last season. “Mentally, I’m as good as I’ve ever been. I always joke that I have to thank my mom and dad because they gave me good genes as far as health goes.”
Red Sox trade for All-Star closer
BOSTON (AP) — If Joel Hanrahan can do for the Boston Red Sox what he did against them, they should be very happy with their new closer.
In the first of his two All-Star seasons, the right-hander posted back-to-back saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates with perfect ninth innings against the Red Sox in June 2011. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez, who entered the series batting .359, to end the second game.
“When people look back on me as a Pirate, that’s the one that stands out the most to them,” Hanrahan said Wednesday after being obtained in a six-player trade.
People such as Red Sox assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran.
“It definitely made an impression on me,” he said. “It was not fun to be in the batter’s box against Joel Hanrahan.”
Mariners bring Ibanez home
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners officially announced their $2.75 million, one-year deal with outfielder Raul Ibanez on Wednesday, returning the veteran to where he began his major league career in 1996.
Seattle confirmed an agreement with Ibanez over the weekend but needed to clear a roster spot before making the transaction official.
The deal allows Ibanez to earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses.
“Raul is the ultimate professional both on and off the field,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said in a statement.
The 40-year-old Ibanez hit .240 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 384 at-bats for the Yankees last season.
Including the playoffs, Ibanez hit five home runs that tied the score and eight that put New York ahead, according to STATS. He homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland.
And with New York fighting for the AL East title, he delivered a tying, pinch-hit homer against Boston in the ninth Oct. 2 and then singled in the winning run in the 12th.
Then in Game 3 of the division series against Baltimore, he became the first player in major league history to homer twice in a postseason game he didn’t start. He pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning and hit a tying home run, then hit a winning shot in the 12th.
Three days later, his two-run homer in a four-run ninth inning tied the AL championship series opener against Detroit, a game the Yankees lost 6-4 in 12 innings as the Tigers started their way to a four-game sweep.
Whether there’s another season of production left in Ibanez’s bat is uncertain. He’ll be joining the worst offensive team in baseball, which has tried to make incremental upgrades during the offseason but has been unable to make a huge splash.
Seattle last week added power-hitting Kendrys Morales in a trade that sent left-hander Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels. Former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero started 77 games at designated hitter last season for the Mariners and 55 behind the plate, so Ibanez’s acquisition by the Mariners could make catcher John Jaso expendable. Jaso made 39 starts behind the plate and 44 at DH.
The Mariners also signed former Mets slugger Jason Bay to a one-year deal in the hope that he could restart a career that fell off in New York. But there remain questions about whether any of the three can make a significant difference to Seattle’s scuffling offense.
“In Raul we have a player and person with outstanding leadership skills who has participated in postseason play the last several years,” Zduriencik said. “We will give Raul the opportunity to come in and compete and add an additional veteran presence to this ball club.”
In 17 major league seasons that also included time with Kansas City (2001-03) and Philadelphia (2009-11), Ibanez has a .278 career average with 271 home runs and 1,116 RBIs.