White Sox

Sox Drawer: A.J.'s L.A. Story

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Sox Drawer: A.J.'s L.A. Story

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Posted 8:34 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

ORLANDO, Fla -- For all practical purposes, A.J. Pierzynski should be a Los Angeles Dodger right now.

He told his mom he was going to be a Dodger. He told his wife and kids. They were all planning on a new life on the West Coast.

A.J. in LA. It had a nice ring to it.

But just as Pierzynski was officially going to exchange his White Sox black for Dodger blue, came a much different ring buzzing from his cell phone last Thursday.

It was White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn.

There was a last minute offer coming from the South Side. Actually, to say the Sox had a minute left would be an understatement.

"I was literally a half-second away from being gone," Pierzynski says in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. "Right when my agent was picking up the phone to basically call the Dodgers to tell them yes, the White Sox called back, so it ended up working out."

For everyone but the Dodgers.

"I think (the Dodgers) felt they had it done, because I thought they had it done. I think everybody (did). My agent, my wife, me, and it was kind of bittersweet because I was excited about going to LA, a new team, a new start, and then at the same time, I was kind of disappointed with the way it played out with the White Sox."

The issue wasn't that the Sox didn't want A.J. back, but at the time, their main focus was trying to find a way to sign both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Kenny Williams felt (and hoped) he'd be able to wait until the two sluggers fates were resolved before turning to Pierzynski.

There was only so much money to go around, and they weren't sure how much they'd have left for Pierzynski.

"They kept saying, they couldn't talk right now, and I was like 'I'm going to leave,'" Pierzynski recalls. "I said okay, but they still didn't do anything. Then at the last second they called and did it."

Was it divine intervention? Jerry Reinsdorf intervention?

Maybe a little of both.

Pierzynski had a frank chat with the White Sox chairman. "He gave me his honest opinion," Pierzynski says.

Which for A.J. meant that if he wanted to return to the White Sox, he would have to take a large pay cut.

Pierzynski's free agent walk year in 2010 did not go as planned, especially at the start when he finished the month of April batting .169 with no home runs and four RBIs.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me," Pierzynski says. "It obviously affected me. It affects everybody in different ways. We had brief talks about doing an extension in spring training, and it kind of fell through, and I handled it the wrong way. Instead of looking at it as a positive and going after it, I got angry and didn't do it. It made me miserable, and it affected the way I played on the field. Finally, once I had a realization that it doesn't matter anymore, just go out and play, that's when things turned around."

Pierzynski batted .333 in August and September to finish the season hitting .270. A respectable number, but not the kind he wanted heading into free agency. After making 6.75 million in 2010, Pierzynski's new deal averages out to 4 million a year in 2011 and 2012.

He said all along that he didn't need to break the bank. He just wanted a fair deal.

Going to LA? For many Sox fans, that would have felt like a raw deal.

A Dodger career? "As close as you can humanly come," he says.

But now, Pierzynski is coming back to his second home. Chicago.

Where he belongs.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

White Sox adjust 40-man roster — including adding Eloy Jimenez — ahead of Rule 5 Draft deadline

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USA TODAY

White Sox adjust 40-man roster — including adding Eloy Jimenez — ahead of Rule 5 Draft deadline

The White Sox made some adjustments to their 40-man roster ahead of Monday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

Rules stipulate that a player who signed when he was 18 or younger and has played five seasons of professional baseball is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if he is not on his team's 40-man roster. Because of that, the White Sox — like the rest of the teams in the league — made some moves Monday to protect certain players.

The White Sox announced Monday afternoon that they purchased the contracts of infielder Casey Gillaspie from Triple-A Charlotte, outfielder Eloy Jimenez from Double-A Birmingham, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Ian Clarkin from Class-A Winston-Salem and outfielder Micker Adolfo from Class-A Kannapolis.

Simultaneously, pitchers Chris Beck and Tyler Danish were outrighted to Charlotte.

The most notable name on the list is of course Jimenez, the highly ranked outfielder acquired from the Cubs in July's trade that sent Jose Quintana to the North Side. Jimenez was a no-brainer to be protected after he slugged 19 homers and hit 22 doubles with 65 RBIs in his 89 games in the minors last season, splitting time between Birmingham and Winston-Salem in the White Sox system and Class-A Myrtle Beach in the Cubs' system. Jimenez is ranked as the White Sox No. 1 prospect by MLB.com.

Gillaspie was acquired in the trade that sent Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays. The brother of former White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie, he hit 15 homers and 20 doubles in 125 games all at the Triple-A level. Gillaspie is ranked as the White Sox No. 11 prospect by MLB.com.

Basabe, the White Sox No. 17 prospect, was in last offseason's Chris Sale trade and hit .221 with five homers and 12 doubles at Winston-Salem. Adolfo, the White Sox No. 14 prospect, was signed as a free agent in 2013 and hit .264 with 16 homers and 28 doubles at Kannapolis. Clarkin, the White Sox No. 22 prospect, was acquired in the seven-player trade with the Yankees in July and posted a 2.60 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 86.2 innings of work at the Class-A level.

The 27-year-old Beck posted a very high 6.40 ERA in 64.2 innings out of the White Sox bullpen last season. Danish made just one appearance with the big league club last season, getting his first major league win in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

Three months till baseball's back as White Sox announce spring training schedule

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USA TODAY

Three months till baseball's back as White Sox announce spring training schedule

Only three more months till the White Sox are back in action.

The South Siders announced their spring training schedule Monday, with Cactus League play commencing Feb. 23 out in Arizona.

The White Sox have the unenviable task of opening the exhibition schedule against the defending National League champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers playing hosts to the Pale Hose in Glendale. The White Sox will be the visitors, though they share the Camelback Ranch facility with the Dodgers, so they'll still be in their home ballpark. Their first official home game comes two days later, in a Feb. 25 matchup against the Cincinnati Reds.

The White Sox will face off against the Cubs in three "Cactus Crosstown" games on Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and on March 16 in Glendale.

And in a cool wrap to the preseason, the White Sox will square off against their own Triple-A affiliate March 26 in Charlotte. The game against the Knights should be a fun watch considering all the future White Sox expected to make their way to the big leagues over the next couple seasons. The Knights' roster could be loaded with highly ranked prospects depending on how things shake out.

Here's the full schedule: