A history of stirring things up
As you remember from the controversial Rays obstruction play this season in Chicago, catcher A.J. Pierzynski is no stranger to being in the middle of things:
. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire jokes that he had two chairs in his office — one for Pierzynski (Twins, 1998-2003) and one for everyone else. When Pierzynski leaves, Gardenhire says the catcher's grating ways cost his pitchers strikes with umpires.
. While with the Giants (2004), he's accused of kneeing a trainer in the groin (Pierzynski denies it), playing cards instead of going over opposing hitters (says it happened once after asking pitcher Brett Tomko to wait a moment while he finished a hand) and criticizing his pitchers to opposition.
. After he is released by the Giants, his agent contacts White Sox GM Kenny Williams, who asks manager Ozzie Guillen about acquiring Pierzynski. "I told him, 'Hell no.' I don't want that headache on my team."
. In 2005 spring training, he offers a $100 bounty to anyone who homers off ex-Giants teammate Tomko, who Pierzynski claims was the anonymous player who labeled him a "clubhouse cancer" in an article the previous season. Pierzynski's White Sox teammates put a Tomko baseball card in his locker.
. 2005 ALCS, Game 2, vs. Angels. He strikes out swinging but twirls around and races to first, believing C Josh Paul had not caught Strike 3 cleanly for the third out. Paul, believing he had, rolls the ball back to the mound as he and his teammates walk off. Pierzynski is called safe, and a pinch-runner steals second and soon scores the winner. The play shifts the momentum to the White Sox, who go on to win the ALCS and World Series.
. On May 20, 2006, against the rival Cubs, he is punched in the jaw by C Michael Barrett after Pierzynski crashes into him at home, knocks him off his feet, slaps the plate with his hand and bumps Barrett, setting off a melee. Barrett gets a 10-game suspension; Pierzynski is fined $2,000 (he says for inciting the crowd by waving his hands after the brawl) but no suspension.
. In May 2006, Sports Illustrated runs the results of a survey taken among 470 major-leaguers about what player they would most like to see get beaned. Pierzynski "wins" with 18 percent of the vote. Of those surveyed in the AL Central, 42 percent vote for him.
. No. 9 in GQ's list of 10 Most Hated Athletes.
. In 2007, makes an appearance as a member of security on the Jerry Springer Show.
. In May 2007, the Twins accuse Pierzynski of trying to spike first baseman Justin Morneau as he crosses the bag. Pierzynski later apologizes and says it wasn't intentional. "I don't think A.J. does anything like that on purpose," Gardenhire says. "But there's that one second, when something takes place on the field, and it just happens with him."
Sources: ESPN.com, SI, GQ, Minneapolis Star-Tribune