White Sox take advantage of 'Big Break'

White Sox take advantage of 'Big Break'

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A.J. Pierzynski had the perfect side bet planned out for Monday afternoon's The Big Break All-Star Challenge, taped at Star Pass Country Club, and eventually to be aired on The Golf Channel.

The talkative White Sox catcher held in his possession a University of Florida shirt and was going to make Greg Walker wear the shirt if he outdistanced the White Sox hitting coach in the long-drive portion of this five-part made-for-television competition. Walker, a staunch supporter of the University of Georgia, would have Gator-backer Pierzynski wear a Georgia hat if his golf shot traveled the farthest.

There were just two minor flaws in Pierzynski's brilliant and yet diabolical plan. Walker didn't know about the bet, and was unable to attend the event after injuring his arm while playing golf on Sunday. So, Pierzynski settled for delivering a healthy dose of trash-talk to manager Ozzie Guillen, first-base coach Harold Baines, bench coach Tim Raines and general manager Ken Williams, who filled in for Walker, in this players-vs.-coaches battle.

Pierzynski was the one who got the White Sox involved in this competition, one of the most successful shows in The Golf Channel's 11-year history, through his friendship with one of the producers. The coaches and the players, featuring Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, Scott Podsednik and Jon Garland, would divide up $15,000 for their respective charities.

Each individual's winnings would be decided by the final outcome, which was closely guarded until the air date. The combination of golf, fun and charity was too much for these eight to pass up, even in the early stages of Spring Training workouts.

"It's good-hearted competition and camaraderie," Williams said. "We'll give it a whack and whatever happens, happens."

"Anyone who has ever watched The Big Break knows how cool it is," Pierzynski added. "Especially this glass break thing."

The competition featured five distinct challenges. There was one-on-one putting, where each player picks someone from the other team for a head-to-head matchup. The groups then moved on to a Par 3 hole, in which they simply had to reach the green. The amount of shots it took each player to get there served as their score and the lowest total won.

A long-drive competition was fourth on the list, with a grid set up from 220 yards to 310 yards. Each extra 10 yards gets the golfer 10 more points, but the points only counted if the ball stays on the fairway. Finally, there's an accuracy competition, with three circles on the green to target.

But the most interesting challenge, and the one spoken of by Pierzynski, was the glass-breaking relay. Each player or coach had a 2-foot-x-2-foot pane of glass with his name and number on it and had to break the glass with his respective golf shot from approximately 20 feet away. When one golfer is successful, then the second one steps in. All four players breaking their glass first produces 10 points.

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When Guillen heard the competition explained, he couldn't miss a chance to play to the small crowd on hand.

"Do you have lights on this course?" said Guillen, referring to his less-than-perfect accuracy, drawing a loud laugh from the fans.

Guillen actually never had the chance to officially hit in this round. Raines was the first participant to break the glass, but Podsednik, Pierzynski, Garland and Dye connected before Baines could make contact as the second member of the coaches' team to hit.

Before the cameras stopped rolling, Guillen was bound and determined to complete the task successfully. He did so by using a driver, not exactly the expected club to be chosen in this sort of skill test.

The players took to gloating a bit over the early victory, with Pierzynski asking the coaches if they wanted the players to break their glass for them. The trash-talking was an almost required part of the event, taken all in good fun.

It really was just a group of eight friends out playing golf. Only, this group happens to be part of the World Series champion White Sox and had their interaction taped for television.

"You want to have fun and give them a hard time," Pierzynski said. "If you give them a hard time and they get mad, then you have more fun. So, it's both.

"This is the golf course, and things are completely different. When we get back to Tucson Electric Park [Tuesday], there will still be some trash talking. It will be in good fun, though."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.