Ventura plans to bat Pierzynski at No. 2

GLENDALE, Ariz.-- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he likes catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the No. 2 spot of the batting order this season.

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez batted second for a majority of last season while Pierzynski occupied the fifth, sixth or seventh spots in the batting order. Pierzynski did not hit in the No. 2 hole once last season. He finished 2011 with a .323 on-base percentage.

“I think he handles the bat great, is always a tough out,” Ventura said of Pierzynski. “Not that he’s going to steal a lot of bases, but he handles the bat and does the appropriate things and he’ll hook it if he has to and put it the other way if you shift on him. Right now, I like him right there.”

Ventura is unsure of whether he’ll bat Paul Konerko third or fourth, but plans to put the veteran slugger at cleanup for Monday’s Cactus League opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Should Pierzynski bat second, it's more likely that Konerko would bat cleanup, which would allow a player with more foot speed to hit in the No. 3 hole. Konerko hit .321 in the cleanup spot last season.

“I’m still shaping on that right now,” Ventura said. “But I’d like Paulie to bat fourth. I think it’s more of a spot for him. He probably feels more comfortable there.”

With lefty Alejandro De Aza occupying the leadoff spot, Ventura added that he probably wouldn't hit Pierzynski second against left-handed pitchers. Pierzynski singled and scored a run in the first and had an RBI double in the second inning of Team Dunn's 8-4 win over Team Konerko on Saturday. Konerko went 0-for-1 with a walk.