- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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A.J. Pierzynski returned to U.S. Cellular field on Friday for the first time since leaving as a free agent after the 2012 season, and he got a standing ovation and four-minute video tribute from his former team. The veteran catcher went 1-for-5 on the evening with a sac fly and an RBI. The always confident Pierzynski was frozen in emotion while helping to warm up starter Martin Perez; he watched the video board in center field as the highlights of his eight-year Sox career were shown between the top and bottom of the first inning.
“I was trying to look," he said. “I know they had some wrestling clips which I know the guys liked. The parts I saw I thought were awesome.”
The 36-year-old catcher admitted to being almost lost in emotion for the first time in his career on the field. "It was great," he said. "From the time I ran out to warm up the pitcher, the fans were cheering. After that -- well, it is something I will never forget. When I look back, I will say that was one of the best moments of my career.”
Pierzynski shared a few moments with close friend Paul Konerko at the plate and when Pierzynski got his lone hit of the game, a single in the eighth inning. "Paul is Paul, and I love him to death,” he said. “He is not having the year he wants to have. I talk to Paul all of the time, and when he came up, he said, ‘it is still weird seeing you in that uniform.' He is one of my best friends. Any time I get to talk to him, it is always entertaining and enlightening.”
The Texas Rangers increased their lead in the American League West with the 11-5 victory. They have won 19 of the their past 23 games.
"We thought from the start of the season we had a pretty good team," Pierzynski said. "It took a while for things to happen. We were pretty banged up, which is not an excuse, but we finally have got guys settled in and we made some moves. We started to play better, and it is fun. We have five starters that we know can give us a chance. Our bullpen is as good as anyone has. I think we will be OK.”