Oblique injury means Pierzynski must wait to face former team

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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It’s a series that A.J. Pierzynski had circled on his calendar since he signed with the Texas Rangers last winter. He couldn’t wait to face his former team, the Chicago White Sox, in a Rangers uniform.

But Pierzynski will have to a wait at least a day longer than expected before taking on his former teammates. Pierzynski sat out the Rangers-White Sox series opener Tuesday with a sore right oblique muscle but is hopeful to be ready for Wednesday night’s game.

Pierzynski was available to pinch hit. Geovany Soto made his sixth start at catcher.

“It’s killing me not to be out there,” Pierzynski said. “It’s the team I was with the last eight years, a bunch of guys, a bunch of friends. To not be able to go out there at least today is hard.

“I was looking forward to this series. Unfortunately today it just wasn’t meant to be.”

The Rangers and Pierzynski certainly don’t want to risk it, either. The catching depth at the higher levels of the farm system isn’t great, and Pierzynski is expected to get the majority of the starts behind the plate this season.

“I need him around here the rest of the year,” manager Ron Washington said.

Pierzynski, 36, has been one of the most durable catchers in the big leagues the past dozen years, catching at least 100 games in each of them. And the day off is expected to make sure that streak continues for a 13th season.

Pierzynski has dealt with the oblique injury the past few seasons and expressed little concern about it. He said he missed a three-game series against the Rangers last season because of it but had no issues going forward.

Pierzynski has been playing through the injury the past two or three weeks, saying it only causes soreness or pain when he swings the bat.

The latest setback is a side effect of treatment he received on it that caused bruising in another area. Pierzynski didn’t need an MRI or further tests, as he and the medical staff are taking the cautious route so it doesn’t become something that requires a stint on the disabled list.

“It’s kind of like getting hit by a bat or being in a car accident — there’s nothing you can do about it,” Pierzynski said. “It’s no big deal. I’ve played with worse, and hopefully I can get out there tomorrow.”

Pierzynski hasn’t faced the White Sox since 2003 when he was with the Minnesota Twins, but he has impressive numbers against them. He has batted .347 with 16 doubles, four home runs, 25 RBIs and 19 runs over 50 career games against Chicago. His .347 average is the highest average among active players with at least 150 at-bats against the White Sox.

Pierzynski also has hit safely in his last 11 games against the White Sox, a stretch that began June 25, 2003. A more timely stat is Pierzynski’s current eight-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .303 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Washington didn’t rule out the possibility of giving Soto a second consecutive start with the White Sox starting another left-hander Wednesday in Chris Sale.

But if Pierzynski is ready, it’s hard to see him sitting out another game against his former team.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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