Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski, right, throws the ball along with teammate Matt Kennelly during a spring training baseball workout, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman
March 01, 2015

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) A.J. Pierzynski has been called a lot of things during his lengthy major league career, and not many of them are very nice.

Pierzynski realizes that he is known for being an irritant, a pest, and quite a handful for any team wearing a different colored uniform.

He's also one of the most respected players in baseball as far as his home clubhouse. He said that all he cares about is being a good teammate and he doesn't care what opponents think about him.

New to the Braves, the catcher was laughing it up with the Atlanta players during a workout this weekend. He knows he may have annoyed some of them along the way, but Pierzynski has a way of endearing himself to new teammates.

When the Braves signed him over the offseason, it became his seventh major league stop. He split time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox last season before signing with the Braves, who are looking for a mentor to young Christian Bethancourt.

Pierzynski has played in five postseasons and was the catcher when the Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series.

He knows he is in Atlanta partly to work with Bethancourt, but he's also with the Braves to win.

''This team has a tradition of winning and I want to be a part of that. I still have a lot to give this team and it is a great group of guys,'' he said.

Pierzynski said he knows his role with the Braves. He'll mix time with Bethancourt and do some teaching on the side.

So far in spring training, Pierzynski seems to be one of the leaders on a team that went through a transitional offseason. He said he knows he isn't on the team to make friends, even though his team attitude is already evident around the batting cage.

''My job is to do whatever it takes to help the Braves,'' Pierzynski said. ''I know what my role is and I do it the best I can.''

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he's aware Pierzynski has a reputation for bothering other teams, but said he's never seen it up close.

''Nobody works harder,' Gonzalez said. ''I have heard things but nothing bad. He's a competitor.''

Pierzynski has heard the criticism and said he could care less.

''I know you don't have to go all out of your way to be all nice and normal,'' Pierzynski said. ''I can't play any differently. I have to be myself. Every team I go to seems to win.''

NOTES: OF Melvin Upton was riding around the clubhouse on a motorized vehicle as he waits for his left foot to recover from inflammation. He's expected to miss the bulk of spring training. ... SS Andrelton Simmons had a limited workout as he recovers from an oblique strain. Gonzalez said it was nothing serious. ... LHP Wandy Rodriguez will start Wednesday's exhibition opener against the New York Mets. Julio Teheran will make his spring debut on Thursday against Detroit.

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