Thursday, July 28, 2016

Relics of 2002

A.J. Pierzynski has caught more games than Johnny Bench,
Yogi Berra and Gabby Hartnett -- or a lot of other people.
The Twins this month have seen a number of survivors of the 2002 Twins: Kyle Lohse with the Texas Rangers, David Ortiz with the Boston Red Sox, and this week A.J. Pierzynski with the Atlanta Braves.

Ortiz, having a big season, has declared, repeatedly, that this is his final season. Lohse made two starts with Texas this month (one against the Twins), fared ill in both, and has now been designated for assignment; it's possible that he's had his last chance.

And the 39-year-old Pierzynski, who hit .300 last season for the Braves, is hitting a career-worst .215 this year.

I've commented before on the remarkable durability and longevity of Pierzynski, who now stands ninth all-time in games caught and will match Jim Sundberg for eighth the next time he squats behind the plate and flashes signs to a pitcher. He has a realistic chance of rising to sixth before the end of the season (ahead of him are Brad Ausmus and Tony Pena).

But ... for next year, he'll be a 40-year-old catcher coming off a bad year at the plate. This may be his last season too.

We may be seeing the end of the 2002 Twins. Johan Santana apparently hasn't abandoned his ambitions of returning, but he hasn't taken the mound since 2012. LaTroy Hawkins, Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter hung 'em up after last season. Lohse, Ortiz and Pierzynski are all that's left from that legendary (at least in Minnesota) squad.

That realization makes me feel as old as I am.

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