Relaxed Pierzynski showing more offensive pop

Relaxed Pierzynski showing more offensive pop

TORONTO -- At 35 years of age, A.J. Pierzynski is enjoying a career year at the plate.

Entering play Tuesday, Pierzynski had already set a career high with 23 homers, and is on pace to eclipse his previous bests in RBIs, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS).

The backstop leads all Major League catchers in home runs and is the leader among American League backstop in RBIs (67), slugging (.556) and OPS (.905). His 3.4 offensive WAR (wins above replacement), per baseball-reference.com, trails only the Twins' Joe Mauer in the AL and is his highest mark since 2003.

Although Pierzynski didn't flash much power in 2011 -- hitting just eight homers and driving in 48 runs -- he believes he made some key changes that started last season.

He made what he described as minor adjustments to his approach that carried over into 2012 and is also feeling more loose when he steps into the batter's box.

"Not trying too hard, not putting too much pressure on myself," Pierzynski said. "Just going out there and trying to enjoy the game and it has been good because we have a good bunch of guys on this team that allow that to happen."

The season he's having has not surprised manager Robin Ventura, either.

"It's a testament to his workout and how he takes care of himself," Ventura said.