When the Boston Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynksi to a one-year deal, it seemed logical since Boston simply wanted a bridge to its catching prospects, nearly ready for the majors.
But there were concerns with his defense, his anti-Red Sox philosophy of NOT grinding at-bats (i.e., swing early and often) and his personality, which has been reported as difficult (but that last factor can sometimes be overblown in today's 24/7 reporting that looks for controversy everywhere).
Two voices come to mind earlier this year. In spring training, one baseball reporter (who knew of Pierzynksi's reputation) said the Red Sox signing him was baffling since they emphasized "team-first" so much in 2013. "I don't think this is going to work out," he said.
Then I spoke to a scout at a Sea Dogs game who knew of major league pitchers telling their teams not to sign Pierzynski when he was a free agent. A catcher's concern for his pitcher is vital (re: Varitek, Saltalamacchia, Ross). Apparently Pierzynski did not share that concern.
So Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, admitting the mistake "is on me" designated Pierzynski for assignment on Wednesday. See the story by Rob Bradford in weei.com
This is not to say Pierzynski was the sole cause (or even the major cause) for Boston's problems this year. But he certainly was not helping.
So Christian Vazquez finally gets promoted from Pawtucket and put in the starting lineup (along with Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt (walk-off single), Jackie Bradley Jr. (another sensational catch) and Mookie Betts (two hits, two runs). It was the first time Boston started five rookies in the lineup this early in the season since 1952.
Pawtucket knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright (4-1, 2.04) had another sensational start: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K (111 pitches/67 strikes) ... Like Allen Webster, Wright is deserving a call-up - WHEN there is room for him.
With Vazquez gone, Dan Butler assumes the No. 1 catching spot for Pawtucket (Jayson Hernandez was activated from the DL to serve as the back-up - no Blake Swihart promotion, yet). Butler, 27, had his typical slow start to the season, but is batting .268 since the end of May. He hit his third home run on Wednesday.
For those wondering about catching the knuckleball, Vazquez and Butler have both caught Wright in four games.
The Sea Dogs were swept in a doubleheader in Binghamton. One bright spot was a perfect inning of relief from Aaron Kurcz (two K's), dropping his ERA to 1.99 (25 K's in 22 2/3 innings). Kurcz was one of the players Boston received from the Cubs in the compensation deal for Theo Epstein.
The Orioles-affiliated Frederick Keys beat the Salem Red Sox 8-1. Mike Yastrzemski (Yaz's grandson) went 2-for-5 for the Keys with a double and triple, upping his average to .324 ... Salem's Reed Grgnani walked three times (.424 OBP),
Salem's Madison Younginer, a bonus baby draft pick out of high school in 2009, had a tough inning in relief: 7 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 1 K. Younginer (5.35 ERA) had been pitching well in May and June, but he has yet to maintain success for long.
I'll be at Fenway this afternoon. Check the tweets @ClearTheBases