St. Louis Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski addressed the media prior to Game 2 of the 2014 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.
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Q. Marco Gonzales was just in here. Have you been able to catch him? And just what do you think of him being a rookie on this club and you being a veteran?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: Well, Marco has been great for us. Obviously, he’s come into games, two wins in the first series and yesterday gave us depth after Waino struggled. He has been awesome. He came up early. They said he struggled, but since I have seen them here, he’s rock solid.
As a starter, coming out of the pen and done what we needed him to. He did what we asked of him. I don’t know what you want out of him. He has done everything we asked of him.
Q. Adam Wainwright, tell us last night about going to the video room after his outing. Was that based on something you saw while he was out on the mound, or were you just‑‑what did you see there that you wanted to do that?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: Actually he was in the video room, I was in the video room getting prepared for maybe hitting later in the game, and I was just talking to him and asking him what he was looking at. He was sitting there kind of doing stuff from early in the year, what he saw.
The first thing I asked him was he physically okay? He said yes, which I know people have been questioning for awhile here. And then second of all, he’s like what do you see? And I just talked to him about a minor thing that I saw from the video that we were watching together. And I was like, Look, if you don’t think this is right, then you can tell me to beat it, but he’s like, No.
And I was like, Sometimes this is what I see out of you when you’re good, this is what I see when you’re struggling, you’re up a little bit, not as sharp, this is what I see.
We did some side‑by‑side stuff and he said, Wow, that might actually happen and that’s something I thought about in the past, but I thought I had that pretty licked.
And last night, as we watched it, as the game went you could see it getting a little bit worse as the innings went by. Something that will hopefully help, and in the next start, he will be better.
Q. He mentioned that you brought up Gavin Floyd and kind of the timing I guess of the hand separation. Was that the big thing that you caught?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: Yeah, because we used to talk with Gavin when I was in Chicago. Gavin had a big thing about carrying his hands with him instead of getting his hands out of the glove. That’s what we were talking about.
It’s hard to explain without me standing up and doing it, but it was more of a timing thing with his hands. As we watched his good starts and where he was and compared to last night, and even his start against L.A., you could see that he was just a little bit late. And therefore his arm swing was shorter and he wasn’t in rhythm. He wasn’t as efficient as Adam can be, as we have all seen him be.
Q. You’ve been on some excellent clubs including a World Series Championship. Where does this one fit as far as the quality of the team?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: This team, until it plays out, obviously the World Series team is obviously number one. But this team is right there as far as character, as far as guys, as far as the ability to win games that probably not supposed to win and to win games that we’re supposed to win. I think this team believes. I talked about it the other day, this team has more belief in itself than any team I have probably been on.
Even the team in the ’05, when we won the World Series with the White Sox. They just believe it is their birthright to go to the World Series and win it. And it is kind of funny, I tell these guys all the time they are spoiled. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to go to the postseason for baseball. And for the Cardinals to do it every year and go to the NLCS or the World Series every year is pretty amazing.
Q. Having caught Peavy a lot, is there anything you can help with the hitters, other than yourself getting at‑bats, but help give advice as to how to approach him or what to do.
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: We talked about it yesterday in the hitter’s meeting. Obviously I know Jake. I caught him on two separate teams. Caught a bunch of his starts. Seen him throw a lot of innings. Talked to him off the field. Just kind of go through what he does, how he likes to approach guys.
And one thing about Jake, you have to out‑compete him. He will be out there, have his whole act where he is yelling and screaming. I told guys not to fall for that. That’s kind of what he does and he can kind of get under guys a little bit.
But that’s just Jake being Jake, and you have to out compete Jake. He will go out there and want to win and battle you and he will never give in. You have to fight him to the end. If we do that, we should be okay.
Q. Different guys have different processes when they’re pinch‑hitting. What’s yours and who did you draw it from?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: Well, I think all of you guys know I’m not going up there looking for a walk. Nothing really changes for me as a pinch‑hitter. You just make sure you’re loose. That’s the big thing. You want a nice sweat or lather going, so you don’t walk up cold, especially with the chilly weather.
Nothing really changes. The thing about pinch‑hitting, most of the time you can line up who are facing and get video work in and talk to Mabes and David Bell about what you want. And most of the guys in the past have at‑bats of some of the guys I do, Affeldt, but that was 10, 12 years ago. It is different now.
But you just try to draw off your experience and know as a pinch‑hitter that you just basically have to have one good swing and try to have that one good swing, and hopefully it comes with guys on base. Pinch‑hitting is the hardest job in the world, I don’t care what anybody says. It’s hard. If you make solid contact with the ball as a pinch‑hitter, you have done your job.
Q. You have to win a game in San Francisco now to win this series. In your experience, are there certain characteristics that make a good road baseball team?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: Yeah, teams with good pitching, that’s kind of where it starts. Especially in the postseason, I think, you have to have good pitching to win on the road because everyone expects to win the home games. And you saw last night Bumgarner pitched a good game and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
So the Giants are, Hey, look, we’re up 1‑0 on the road, and a chance to go up 2‑0 on the road.
We have Lance tonight and hopefully pitch well on the road. I like our chances. Lackey pitched a couple of big games in his career. On the road and at home, it doesn’t really matter. Shelby is throwing the ball great the last month. If we get back to Waino, I really think that Waino is going to have a good start if he gets the opportunity.
I expect us to be fine. I expect us to go in and play well. You never know what’s going to happen, but I truly expect for us to go in and play well and hopefully win more than one game there.
Q. Getting back to helping Waino, I am not trying to push you out of the League or anything, have you thought of coaching when you are done playing? Or are you going straight to pro wrestling?
A.J. PIERZYNSKI: I think wrestling is probably first (Laughter).
I haven’t really thought about it. Obviously, I think I can still play. Obviously, this year is not what I expected it to be. But physically I have no health problems at all and I would like to continue playing. Mentally, obviously, I have young kids or middle‑age kids now, nine and seven. They are in school, which makes it tough.
But I physically want to play, and my kids want me to play and my wife wants me to play. It is hard to walk away. Whether it is to come in and help a young guy out or come in and play every day, it is a tough opportunity to turn down. All of my friends I talk to say keep playing as long as you can, they all regret once you walk away.
That is the thing where there will be other opportunities once I’m done, but right now I still feel like I can play and we’ll see what happens this winter.