Career NL player Juan Pierre ready to adjust to life in the American League with White SoxBy AP
Monday, March 1, 2010
Career NL player Pierre adjusts to life in the AL
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Juan Pierre is on a new team, in a new league — and back at the same spring training complex as last year.
The outfielder for the Chicago White Sox returned to Camelback Ranch, where he can see his former teammates just a few fields over.
Pierre was ready to remain with the Los Angeles Dodger, even though he had been bumped down to the fourth outfielder’s spot since Manny Ramirez arrived in 2008.
“A lot of people forget about you when you don’t play, and I think with the whole Manny thing, I got a little more exposure than I probably ever had in my career,” Pierre said. “I played well and it opened me up to teams realizing that I can still play, and it ultimately got me over here (to the White Sox) where I can play a little bit more.”
Pierre had come to accept his role with the Dodgers last year, but when Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy, Pierre was thrust back into the limelight. He responded by batting .318 with 21 stolen bases from May 7 to July 1, the length of Ramirez’ suspension.
Pierre became such a fan favorite for his play that fans who wore “MannyWood” T-shirts in the left-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium sported “JuanPierreWood” T-shirts with Pierre in the lineup.
Pierre is reunited with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who was the third base coach for the Florida Marlins in 2003 when both were part of the World Series championship team.
“He definitely hasn’t changed. Energetic. Speaks his mind,” Pierre said. “Basically wants you to go out there and play hard.”
Pierre, a career National League player, is getting help with his adjustment to the AL from his former minor-league teammate in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, Chone Figgins. Now with the Seattle Mariners at their spring training facility up the freeway, Figgins and Pierre are sharing a house during camp.
“We fish more than we talk about baseball,” Pierre said, “but he’s giving me the heads-up on a lot of the American League pitchers.”
Guillen has a one-liner about his new left fielder, too.
“Juan Pierre should be fine because he didn’t play for the last two years. He’s very fresh,” Guillen said with a laugh. “A lot of people think a leadoff hitter is easy to find. It’s not. We tried to make a leadoff hitter out of that guy for the last three years, (former prospect) Jerry Owens, and look at what happened. What we have here is legit. He’s got experience. One thing about Juan, he brings a lot of stuff off the field. He’s a leader, he’s a hard worker, I think he’s a guy who brings enthusiasm to the game.”
NOTES: White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said closer Bobby Jenks is in need of more throwing after Jenks pitched at spring training Sunday. Jenks and his wife had another child, the weather in Chicago was bad and Jenks had difficulty finding someone to catch him, so he was limited to playing soft toss, Cooper said. “Bobby’s got a little bit different schedule because he was just a tad behind,” Cooper said Tuesday in the team’s non-counting exhibition game against the Dodgers, right-handers Gavin Floyd, Daniel Cabrera, Carlos Torres and Daniel Hudson are expected to pitch two innings each Rain in the greater Phoenix area limited Sunday’s workout to pitchers throwing in the batting cage and position players taking batting practice.
Tags: 2010 Mlb Spring Training, Arizona, Geography, Glendale, North America, United States