A.J. Pierzynski was hired by Fox to provide analysis during the postseason, a position that gave him a close-up view of the Red Sox and their run to the World Series title.
The veteran catcher, who was about to become a free agent, used the opportunity to check out the Sox as possible landing spot. He was impressed with what he saw.
“As a member of the media you learn a lot and you get to see a lot more than you do as a player,” Pierzynski said Wednesday during a conference call.
How the Red Sox prepared for games and the attitude within the clubhouse left an impression. That helped convince Pierzynski to sign a one-year deal with the Sox for $8.25 million.
“It was impossible to say no,” Pierzynski said.
Pierzynski, who turns 37 later this month, said he had multiyear offers from other teams but chose the Red Sox for the opportunity to win at this late stage of his career.
For Pierzynski, joining the Red Sox should be an easy move. He is familiar with pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was on the White Sox coaching staff for five of the seasons Pierzynski played in Chicago. Pierzynski also has played with David Ortiz and Jake Peavy during his 16-year career. He spoke to both of them about joining the Sox.
Yes, even Peavy. The two had a disagreement during a game for the White Sox in 2011 and exchanged words. But according to Pierzynski, their friendship is strong.
“I love that people say that Jake and I don’t get along. Jake and I talk all the time and we get along great,” Pierzynski said.
Pierzynski has a strong personality, combative at times. But he expects no issues joining the harmonious haven of the Red Sox clubhouse and sharing the position with David Ross.
“I’m just trying to fit in,” he said. “Going to Texas last year, I fit in pretty well. Everybody I’ve talked to and guys I know in the Red Sox clubhouse are great. They’re guys that I’ve known.
“This isn’t my team. This is David Ortiz’s; this is Dustin Pedroia’s. It’s those guys’ team. I’m a piece trying to help them win again.”
Said Sox manager John Farrell on WEEI: “The multiple conversations with A.J. prior to signing, we laid out our expectations, we laid out what our clubhouse was about. He was great about it. He was on board with everything.”
The Red Sox, general manager Ben Cherington said, are comfortable with Pierzynski’s defense, citing his strong arm, game-calling, blocking, pitch framing, and handling of pitchers.
“We feel like that’s one of his strengths, not necessarily one of those attributes but the combination of all of those defensive attributes,” Cherington said. “We just think the combination of A.J. and Ross will allow that to be a position of strength for us.”
A few notes:
• Farrell said on WEEI the Red Sox remain hopeful of retaining shortstop Stephen Drew, a free agent. Because Drew was made a qualifying offer, any team signing him would forfeit a draft pick and that could depress his market. The Red Sox are not engaged with Drew at the moment but that could change if he remains on the market into January.
• Righthander Rubby De La Rosa, who spent most of last season in Triple A, agreed to report early to spring training.
• Farrell revealed that third baseman Garin Cecchini and lefthander Henry Owens would be among the non-roster players invited to spring training.