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'Bittersweet' Pierzynski reports to Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Not even in full uniform yet, A.J. Pierzynski still looked odd with a royal blue and red Texas Rangers logo plastered across the front of his brand-new T-shirt.

A new day has dawned as Pierzynski reported to spring training Tuesday in Surprise instead of Glendale, surrounded by new teammates he hopes to get to know as soon as possible.

"Obviously, when I signed here, it was bittersweet because I had been someplace for a long time, but knowing Texas wanted me from day one, that was nice," Pierzynski said. "But until you walk into a new clubhouse, it's a big step and a big difference.

"But it's nice to look up and see a couple people I know -- Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor and some other familiar faces. It helps a little, but it's always a little awkward walking into a place after you've been someplace for so long. You kind of get lost trying to figure out where everything is, but that's part of it. I'll learn fast and go from there."

The presence of Cotts, who is once again trying to make a comeback from shoulder issues, means the Rangers have more players from the White Sox's 2005 World Series champions than the White Sox, who have just one now (Paul Konerko).

It was that '05 season, Pierzynski's first in Chicago, when he endeared himself to a fan base that took him in as one of their own. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spoke for most of the fan base when he released a statement following Pierzynski's departure to the Rangers.

"Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago. A.J. epitomized Chicago's South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game," Reinsdorf's statement read, in part. "He came to compete -- and to win -- every day.

"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."

Pierzynski was well-aware of Reinsdorf's sentiment.

"I'll always appreciate what Jerry did for me and will always have a special place in my heart," he said. "It was nice, but it's over.

"I can't be disappointed. There's no reason to be disappointed. I know it's a business and it wasn't meant to be. I'm excited about the new opportunity here and the chance to come to a team that definitely has a team to be very competitive with a goal of going to the playoffs, and I'm looking forward to that, not looking back at what happened."

The White Sox, meanwhile have moved on to the Tyler Flowers era behind the plate.

"He's a good kid, has a chance to hit some homers," Pierzynski said. "He'll be fine. It's his job to go in there and win the job and be the No. 1 guy on Opening Day. If he does what he's capable of doing, he'll be fine."

As for whether Flowers will be able to handle the pressure, Pierzynski wouldn't go there.

"You'll have to ask him; I don't know anything," he said. "I wish him nothing but the best. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about Texas and myself. I'm not worried about what goes on over there."

The White Sox and Rangers will play six times this season. The first meeting is a three-game series April 30-May 2 at Texas. Pierzynski will return to U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game series Aug. 23-25.