Coming off a strong season with the Rangers in 2013, A.J. Pierzynski entered this winter's free agent market as one of the top available catchers along with Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He drew interest from the Rangers, Blue Jays and Twins in addition to the Red Sox, but ultimately decided that joining the World Series champions would be the best fit.
"It was a bunch of factors," Pierzynski said Saturday at "New Stars for Young Stars", a Jimmy Fund charity event in Boston. "Obviously it doesn’t hurt that [the Red Sox] were coming off a World Series championship and that they have a chance to be good again. It's good just being in Boston and on the east coast because I’m from the east coast, I grew up in Florida and still live there so it’s good to be closer to home. It was a very difficult decision but in the end, Boston won out."
As a media member working for TBS and FOX during the playoffs, Pierzynski had a front row seat for the ALCS and World Series as the Red Sox defeated the Tigers and Cardinals en route to their third championship in the last ten seasons. He was able to spend time in Boston's clubhouse throughout both series, and noted that his experience in the city played a role in his free agent decision.
"It definitely helped," Pierzynski said. "It definitely was nice to be able to come here and see and be a part of as a small member of the media. To witness how the fans were and how the team was, it definitely helped. It was cool to see."
In Boston, Pierzynski will be re-united with David Ortiz, who he played with in Minnesota from 1998 to 2002. He has remained friends with Ortiz since then, but says that the World Series MVP did not play a major role in trying to recruit him for the Red Sox.
"We talk as friends, we don’t talk about stuff like that," Pierzynski said about his relationship with Ortiz. "We always goofed around about trying to play together again--like twenty years later after originally playing together. It’s cool to be a teammate of David’s and I’m so happy he’s had all the success he has been able to have over the years."
While Pierzynski has kept in touch with Ortiz, he admits that he has not been in contact with most of the team's pitching staff throughout the winter.
"In the offseason, everyone does their own thing," Pierzynski said. "It’s something I don’t have to worry about—it’s a veteran group of guys that have been through it. They’ve all won, and they all know what it takes to win so you don’t have to worry about them too much. Sometimes if you have the younger guys, you have to stay on them a little bit, but the older guys know what to do. When we get to spring training, we’ll get right down to work."
For now, Pierzynski is focused on getting acclimated to the Boston area, and hopes to become a part of the community through events like "New Stars for Young Stars".
"It’s great," Pierzynski said about being able to interact with his new community. "When they ask me to come to this, it’s impossible to say no. For the Jimmy Fund, and for what it represents and everything involved, it’s awesome. It’s great to get yourself out, and get involved in the community and the place you’re gonna be. To meet some of the young guys too [Red Sox prospects Drake Britton, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and Rubby De La Rosa, who were on hand for the event], that’s awesome."