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Pierzynski sees both sides of All-Star honor

Pierzynski sees both sides of All-Star honor

Pierzynski sees both sides of All-Star honor
NEW YORK -- A.J. Pierzynski should be a 2012 American League All-Star.

That's something the White Sox catcher believes, and it's a fact supported statistically.

Entering Saturday afternoon's contest at Yankee Stadium, Pierzynski led all Major League catchers with 45 RBIs and ranked second with 14 homers and a .517 slugging percentage. His .285 average placed him fifth among all backstops.

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Pierzynski is on pace to set career highs in homers (29), RBIs (95), slugging percentage and innings caught (1,171). But the veteran also knows his first-half numbers won't necessarily translate to his name being called on Sunday at noon CT on TBS during the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.

"It would be great. I've done it a couple of times; it's awesome," said Pierzynski, who was off for Saturday's day game after Friday's 3 1/2-hour contest, a 14-7 win over the Yankees in which he hit two home runs. "It's the ultimate personal reward as a player to be voted as an All-Star, to go there and enjoy the game.

"At the same time, I know how it works. It's a popularity contest, and I know I'm probably not going to win it. I've been there before. I've had good first halves before and not gone, so I'm not going to put a whole lot of stock into it -- or get my hopes up."

Voting closed on Thursday night, but on Monday, when the final AL ballot update was released, Pierzynski had received 1,416,594 votes and trailed three other catchers, including leading vote-getter Mike Napoli of the Rangers (3,008,228).

After spotting the Yankees a four-run lead in the first on Friday, the White Sox began their comeback with Pierzynski's leadoff homer in the second. His second blast of the game gave Chicago the lead. He sits just four homers short of matching his career best for homers, set in 2005.

Home runs have come consistently for Pierzynski this year, even in times of slumps, although the career .284 hitter with 142 homers hasn't suddenly changed his approach to seek out more power.

"We talked about it when [former hitting coach Greg Walker] was here and now [Jeff] Manto, just trying to 'technique' guys," Pierzynski said. "Now that I've gotten a little bit older, I've settled down a little bit. I still have my moments where I get mad, but I've kind of learned to control [myself] a little bit better.

"Just get the barrel and backspin balls instead of getting a little bit anxious and getting out front. I've always hit a lot of balls with topspin. It's gotten me a lot of hits, but it doesn't lead to hitting for power. This year, I've hit a lot more balls with backspin that have carried."

Whether those home runs carry Pierzynski to his third career All-Star appearance -- the Midsummer Classic will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on July 10 and air at 7 p.m. CT on FOX -- will be revealed on Sunday. It's an appearance that would mean as much to Pierzynski the family man as it would to Pierzynski the player.

"I'm not going to lose any sleep over it," Pierzynski said. "The biggest thing for me is my kids are old enough to understand. Last time I went, my daughter wasn't even a year old. My son is 5, daughter is 7, so that would be cool; they would enjoy it. But it's also nice to get home for four days and be able to relax and get away from the game for a while.

"I'd love to go, but I know how it works. I know how the votes go. The fans vote, and they pick who they pick and the players get the second vote. As we know in every publication, I usually don't win those players' votes. But it's fine. I've had some discussions with my wife, and like I said, I think I deserve it, but there are a lot of guys who are deserving who don't get to go."

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