A.J. Pierzynski Punches His Ticket Out of Chicago

A.J. Pierzynski Punches His Ticket Out of Chicago

By Marcus Riley
|  Friday, Dec 21, 2012  |  Updated 8:26 AM CDT
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A.J. Pierzynski's Greatest Hits

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A.J. Pierzynski's departure leaves Paul Konerko as the only Sox player left from the 2005 World Series team.

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He gone.

Longtime Chicago White Sox cather A.J. Pierzynski reached an agreement with the Texas Rangers on Thursday, signing a one-year contract worth $7.5 million pending a physical on Friday.

Pierzynski will be the Rangers No. 1 catcher or possibly platoon with former Cubs cather Geovany Soto.

The free agent signing leaves the Sox with only one last holdover from the 2005 World Series team, Paul Konerko.

Pierzynski signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 after coming up through the Twins organization and spending a year with the San Francisco Giants.

He made an immediate impact, helping the Sox win the World Series in 2005.

But even then, whenever there was controversy, Pierzynski was usually nearby.

In Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels, Pierzynski appeared to strike out, but ran to first base anyway, sparking a rally that won the game for the Sox. Some called it a heady play -- others called A.J. sneaky -- or worse.

The 2006 season brought what very well may have been the most compelling image of A.J.'s career on the South Side. After a collision at home plate, Cubs catcher Michael Barret took a swing at Pierzynski, prompting a bench-clearing brawl.

Give the Sox media relations team credit for capitalizing on the incident, launching a "Punch A.J." campaign that vaulted him into the All-Star game, the second of his career.

During the 2007 season, Pierzynski got into it with the Twins after allegedly stepping on first baseman Justin Morneau while running inside of the lines. Consider it more fuel for A.J.'s reputation as an instigator.

A.J.'s personality was perfect for the wild world of professional wrestling. Over the years, he's had several appearances on various wrestling programs, from TNA to WWE Raw.

A 2011 Sports Illustrated poll proved what many people already suspected, called Pierzynski the meanest player in baseball.

And Men's Journal's 2012 survey backed it up, naming Pierzynski the most hated man in baseball.

But leave it to former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen for putting things in perspective when he famously said, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."

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