Kevin Millar doesn’t necessarily agree with how A.J. Pierzynski’s departure from the Boston Red Sox unfolded.
Pierzynski was designated for assignment earlier this week, and reports immediately surfaced suggesting the catcher’s polarizing personality played a role in the decision. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell said Wednesday the move was based on Pierzynski underachieving offensively and the organization wanting to get a look at catcher Christian Vazquez, but Millar believes the clubhouse should have handled things differently if Pierzynski did indeed rub some teammates the wrong way.
“A.J. Pierzynski is a veteran,” Millar said Friday on WEEI’s “Middays with MFB.” “If you’re around A.J., he’s not a bad guy. If you have a problem with A.J., address it. What I can’t stand in clubhouses — and shame on the Red Sox clubhouse — (is) quit whispering and gossiping and address it.
“The articles come out, the Red Sox player gets kicked to the curb and all these bad articles come out, which I think is not fair because if it’s not addressed. How does A.J. know that he’s been staring at his phone for three months and that’s not cool in the Red Sox clubhouse?”
Pierzynski hit .254 with four homers, 31 RBIs and a .286 on-base percentage in 72 games with Boston. His free-swinging approach wasn’t conducive with the Red Sox’s offensive game plan, and it certainly made sense for the team to cut ties with the 37-year-old based solely on his on-field production, especially with Vazquez waiting in the wings.
Pierzynski’s bad guy reputation is well-documented, though, and reports that emerged this week only stoked the fire on if he ever truly fit in with the Red Sox from a chemistry standpoint. Millar, now an MLB Network analyst who played on the Red Sox’s tight-knit 2004 World Series-winning team, wonders if other avenues could have been explored within the clubhouse.
“This is a ballclub. You are in a locker room with your brothers (and) you are going to bat with them for six or seven days a week. You have to be on the same page,” Millar said. “You’re dealing with men. This is not a fist fight. … So the Red Sox’s clubhouse — whoever the leader is — shame on them also.
“A.J. is definitely part of the problem, no doubt about it. But shame on whoever is supposed to be the leader and not addressing this in March, in April.”
In any event, the problem — whether it pertained to things that happened on the field, off the field or a combination of both — was addressed Wednesday with Pierzynski’s DFA. Now, it’s time to turn the page.
It appears Pierzynski already has.