SUNDAY: The Braves have placed Pierzynski on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, per a team announcement. Based on Saturday’s retirement rumblings, it’s possible he has played his last game.
SATURDAY, 10:52pm: In yet another twist, Pierzynski has left the door for retirement open, telling reporters, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring, but if that’s it, then it was fun” (Twitter link via O’Brien).
10:03pm: Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has decided to retire, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Pierzynski was hugging teammates and handing out cigars after the Braves’ win over the Mets on Saturday, per O’Brien.
The polarizing Pierzynski, 39, played for seven teams in parts of 18 major league campaigns. His final season didn’t go well, as he batted just .219/.243/.304 in 259 plate appearances, but he was a quality contributor as recently as last year. In his first of two years in Atlanta, Pierzynski slashed .300/.339/.430 over 436 trips to the plate, leading the club to re-sign him last offseason to a one-year deal with a $3MM base salary.
Before joining the Braves, Pierzynski divided an unproductive 2014 between St. Louis and Boston. He previously played for the Rangers, White Sox, Giants and Twins, and will be best remembered for his time in Chicago. During his tenure with the White Sox from 2005-12, Pierzynski helped the club to a World Series title in his first year in Chicago, caught a no-hitter from Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber’s perfect game, played in no fewer than 128 games in each individual season, and earned his second and final career All-Star nod in 2006. That year, Pierzynski drew the ire of Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, who punched Pierzynski after a home plate collision and incited a brawl between the teams during a May matchup.
The year before he arrived in Chicago, Pierzynski spent 2004 in San Francisco, which acquired him in one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory. To land Pierzynski, the Giants sent southpaw Francisco Liriano, all-time great closer Joe Nathan and right-hander Boof Bonser to the Twins. While the Twins reaped the rewards of that return for several years, Pierzynski disappointed in San Francisco and then signed as a free agent with the White Sox.
Pierzynski, whom the Twins selected in the third round of the 1994 draft, hit .280/.318/.420 with 188 home runs in 7,813 career trips to the plate and was worth in the neighborhood of 23.0 WAR, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference – the latter of which lists his career earnings as upward of $61MM. MLBTR congratulates Pierzynski on a fine career.