Forget what you've heard about White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The World Series champ is one of the most genuine, honest and appreciative guys in sports today. Sure, he may have had missteps along the way, but Pierzynski is older, wiser and just as hungry to win as ever.
CB: What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
AP: Oh man, where do we start? Off the field I'm pretty mellow and I kind of stick to my own business. People think that I'm brash all the time, but I'm really not. I have a life at home, I have a wife and kids and dog. When I get away from the field I just want to have a normal life.
Given your personality and Ozzie's, is the clubhouse environment fun and relaxed?
One of Ozzie's biggest strengths is that he does keep it loose and is able to talk to people, and say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes he says the wrong thing at the wrong time, but that's Ozzie. As a player you know that he means well and wants to help you do well. He's kind of the same way [as me]. . .people see how he is on the field and on the bench, but in the clubhouse he's different. He'll talk to you about your family, your life, he loves kids. . . that's cool.
Best perk about being in the majors?
Well, paychecks obviously. [laughs] Just the whole thing. . . being able to play baseball, travel around the country on private jets to see all the cities, play in front of 30,000 people every night. Having people cheer for you, having people boo you . . . everything. It's just the best job you could ever have.
You once said that you could see yourself playing for the Cubs. Did you really mean that?
I probably did say that, but I was a free agent at the time, so I couldn't discriminate against anybody. Kerry Wood kind of did it this year where he had a chance to come play for the White Sox and said he couldn't do it. If it came right down to it, I don't know if I could. I don't know if they'd let me. (However, it would) be closer to my house.
You expect the fans at Wrigley to boo you, but you've said you'd be more thrown off guard if they decided to cheer you.
I don't think I'd know what to do. Even my own teammates would be like, 'what the hell is going on here?' [laughs] Like 'did you buy the whole stadium beers?' They wouldn't know what to do.
Talk about your charity, Movember.
You grow a mustache for the month of November (to raise awareness) for prostate cancer. All the donations go to prostate cancer. I try to get the word out and then I'll match what everyone gives.
What does your wife think of the mustache?
She hates it. When I grew this the other day, she's like, 'this is a mustache?' I'm like, 'uh-oh.' Juan Pierre and I are like, 'let's just do it.' But he shaved his because his wife made him. But I kept mine because she's not here, but when she comes she'll have the clippers. She'll be like, 'get rid of that thing!'
Tell us about your Chicago favorites.
The Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium and the Children's Museum are always big hits with the kids. We're always at HUB51. Sunda and Mercadito as well. My buddies and I go to Local Option, a little bar by our house, as well as Tilli's and Pasta Palazzo.