Pierzynski the AL Player of the Week
White Sox catcher hit .500 with two homers and seven RBIs
If there really is a chip on the White Sox shoulders following a dismal 2007 season, A.J Pierzynski is undoubtedly driven by it. The veteran catcher tattooed American League Central pitching in the season's opening week, going 10-for-20 with two home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
Pierzynski's offensive output not only helped the Sox go 4-2 in a pair of rivalry road series, but also gave way to his first weekly honor. The backstop was bestowed the AL Player of the Week Award, presented by Bank of America, for the week starting March 31.
Pierzynski has had a hot start by anyone's standards, but it is even more impressive when you consider this: just this spring, he revamped his entire mentality at the plate.
The 31-year-old left-handed hitter worked diligently with hitting coach Greg Walker on driving the ball up the middle, or hitting from left field to right field. The newfound thought process has paid off right from the get-go. Pierzynski's go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning of Friday's 8-5 victory was launched over the right-field fence.
"As good a contact hitter as he is, he should drive in a lot of runs," said teammate Paul Konerko. "He could be the key to the team. When you have a guy in the six-hole doing what he's doing, that's a pretty tough sixth spot."
Pierzynski has certainly made it look effortless in baseball's opening week. In addition to his blast off Detroit's Jason Grilli, he went deep off the Tribe's Jorge Julio on April 3 and entered Monday's home opener with an eight-game hit streak, dating back to Sept. 22, 2007. Friday's contest marked Pierzynski's first five-RBI game since Aug. 13, 2004, at Philadelphia, and it has had a ripple effect on the Sox lineup.
"There's no doubt, we're a lot better," said manager Ozzie Guillen on the effect of Pierzynski's strong hitting.
But for all of his early season success, the two-time AL All-Star remains humble. Pierzynski is quick to peg "luck" for his success against Julio, barely acknowledging the fact that his bat has helped the Sox lineup hit on all cylinders.
But there is one thing Pierznyski has no problem admitting -- his dazzling offense is only just getting started.
"Let's be honest. We stunk last year, myself included, I wasn't very good," Pierzynski said. "We have a lot of professional guys that want to win and expect to win, and that's what we want to do this year."
Pierzynski's teammate, outfielder Jermaine Dye, who hit .417 with two home runs and three RBIs last week, was also nominated for the award. Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick (.444, three RBIs) and Yankees ace right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (2-0, 1.38 ERA) rounded out the first week's nominees.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.