Saturday, March 24, 2012

A.J.'s inside-the-parker: did that really happen?

Posted By on 03.24.12 at 02:19 PM

A.J. Pierzynski wasnt trudging when he hit an inside-the-park homer Friday night.
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  • A.J. Pierzynski wasn't trudging when he hit an inside-the-park homer Friday night.
Was it a trick of the drink, or did A.J. Pierzynski really hit an inside-the-park homer last night?

It was no hallucination, but it was hilariously funny.

A.J. completed the Sox' scoring in a 6-3 victory with a two-run homer in the fifth inning of their exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday night. (Fuzzy question the morning after: why doesn't Arizona do spring training in Florida?) With a man on, he hit a high fastball from Brett Lorin off the top of the center-field fence, and it caromed back onto the field and rolled along the warning track toward right field, between the two pursuing outfielders. A.J. certainly did not leave the batter's box in a sprint; he was closer to a home-run trot as he rounded first and saw the ball bounce free. Then he turned on the jets—or what passes for jets for a catcher. "Run, A.J., run!" I called out to the others in the bar where I was watching the game, and run A.J. did, all the way home, scoring quite easily with a slide in front of the late throw.

What better way to spend a Friday night in March than watching a spring-training baseball game? Sox starter Gavin Floyd was good enough to earn the win, if not quite regular-season sharp. (He gave up two runs in six innings, but walked five against three strikeouts.) A.J. and fellow lefty-swinging Dan Johnson both got key hits earlier against slop-throwing Arizona southpaw starter Joe Saunders. The only low point was A.J. signaling for Floyd to throw a fastball to former Sox farmhand Chris Young, who promptly hit it out of the park (as anyone who recalls the Cubs' 2007 playoff run could have told you). It almost made up for the 17-4 drubbing the Sox' split squad absorbed earlier in the day against their spring Camelback Ranch stadium-mates the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So thanks, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, for carrying a spring night game, and thanks to the Rogers Park bar I was at for putting it on while the rest of the world was watching the NCAA Tournament. But was that really Robin Ventura calling the shots in the Sox dugout? Naw, couldn't have been, but where was Ozzie?

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