When the White Sox open a three-game road series against the Rangers on Tuesday night, they will have to deal with a locked-in Yu Darvish, as well as the friend-turned-foe who now serves as the pitcher's batterymate.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was with the White Sox from 2005-12, will play his first regular-season game against them since '03 as Chicago makes its only trip to Texas this season. He did face them once this spring during Cactus League play, but this is a little different.
"I don't know if it makes it any less strange or anything, or more strange," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But you know it will be good to see him."
Pierzynski is known as one of the masters of getting under opponents' skin, something his former club knows better than anyone.
"He's chatty," Ventura said. "I don't have to bat. So I don't have to listen to that part. I'm sure he'll be chatty."
White Sox pitcher John Danks had been Pierzynski's teammate since arriving in the Majors in 2007 and said it was strange to watch him play for the Rangers when Texas opened the season on March 31 in Houston.
"It was weird seeing him back there," said Danks, who is on the disabled list and won't travel to Texas. "Obviously we all know A.J. and how good of a player he was. It was fun to watch him, kind of weird to not see him in a White Sox uniform."
Pierzynski helped the White Sox to two playoff appearances during his tenure, including a World Series title in 2005. He won his first career Silver Slugger Award in his final season with Chicago, clubbing a career-high 27 home runs before signing a one-year deal with the Rangers.
He has quickly found a new home with Texas, whose pitchers appreciate his presence behind the plate.
"He's an unselfish person, an unselfish catcher and he lets me lead the game," Darvish said through an interpreter. "He lets me pitch my game. I think he's a very good catcher and I really like pitching with him."
Pierzynski's new club comes in riding consecutive losses for the first time this season after dropping the final two of its four-game set at Minnesota. Still, the American League West leaders have won seven of their last 10 overall.
The White Sox also have lost two straight, and six of their last nine.
White Sox: Quintana looks to keep rolling
Chicago will counter Darvish with Jose Quintana, who is off to a 2-0 start with a 2.78 ERA. The lefty had an 18 2/3-innings scoreless streak snapped on Wednesday against the Indians, but picked up the win by holding Cleveland to two runs over five innings.
Quintana has never pitched at Rangers Ballpark, but spun one of his finest outings against Texas last July 5 in Chicago. He gave up only one run on two hits over eight innings, walking one and striking out eight, which remains his career high.
Ventura hopes second baseman Jeff Keppinger will return to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the past three games with lower back spasms. Keppinger is off to a slow start, hitting .202, but posted three straight two-hit games before the injury.
Rangers: Darvish making a big impression
Darvish brings an 18-inning scoreless streak into Tuesday's game. Over his last two starts, against the Mariners and Angels, he has given up six hits in 13 innings and struck out 21.
"This is about as dominant as I've seen someone. He dominates and it doesn't matter the lineup," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "When he did it against Houston, everybody was talking about, 'Oh, that's the Houston Astros lineup.' Then he did it against Seattle when he was at home. Then he did it against the Angels. He has good stuff and he has more than one pitch to work with.
"And he's not just a prototypical Japanese pitcher. A prototypical Japanese pitcher that has been over here in the past, except for [Hideo] Nomo, have been finesse. This guy is finesse and power. He can do either of those, and because he can do either of those when he's on he can make good hitters look bad. When he's not on, he has enough in his repertoire that he can still hang in the ballgame."
Darvish struck out 221 (10.4 per nine innings) last year, but has taken that to another level in 2013. Through Sunday he led the Majors with 49 whiffs, at 13.5 per nine.
"It depends on the situation and it depends on the lineup that I'm facing, but once I get two strikes, I'm trying to go for the strikeout," Darvish said.
Pierzynski hit .347 in 50 games against the White Sox during his years with the Twins, from 1998-2003.
Darvish's only career start against the White Sox was a rough one. He surrendered six runs (five earned) in 6 1/3 innings last July 27 at home.
Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.