Grizzled veteran Pierre continues to be on the run
Speedy outfielder to serve as mentor to young players in second tour with Marlins
JUPITER, Fla. -- Reach base and get ready to go has pretty much been Juan Pierre's mindset ever since he broke into the big leagues.
It's how Pierre approached the game when he broke in with the Rockies in 2000, and nothing has changed today at age 35. The veteran outfielder, in his second stint with the Marlins, once again plans to be on the go.
On base, Pierre has no intentions on slowing down.
"I always look to run early," Pierre said. "I just haven't too many opportunities this spring."
Pierre, the Majors' active stolen-base leader with 591, swiped his first bag of Spring Training on Thursday against the Mets at Tradition Field. In Grapefruit League play, he is 1-for-2 in attempts.
Projected to lead off for Miami, Pierre is having a solid Spring Training at the plate. But one reason he hasn't gone too much is because he has already hit a triple and a double, which came against Team Venezuela in an exhibition game. Statistics from that game don't apply to the Grapefruit League.
"I don't usually hit doubles and triples, but I've hit a couple this spring," Pierre said. "You've got to get on base to run. You can do [simulated] jumps all day, but there is nothing like getting that game-speed jump."
Batting first, Pierre pretty much has the green light to go whenever he wants. But in a young lineup without lots of power, he may have to be more selective when he goes. The big reason is not to open a base for teams to pitch around Giancarlo Stanton, projected to bat third. With Stanton lurking, Pierre likely will be able to score from first on a double.
The situation will determine when manager Mike Redmond is comfortable having Pierre run.
"JP is smart. He knows when to run and when not to run," Redmond said. "Obviously, he has a great feel for that. I think he's going to have opportunities to steal bases. There may be some times we want to let Stanton swing. But at the same time, we don't want to take [away] one of his greatest weapons, his speed. I'm sure there will be a conversation there. You don't play this long in the big leagues and steal this many bases without knowing what you're doing out there."
Being in lineups with imposing power hitters behind him isn't new for Pierre. He experienced it last year in Philadelphia with Ryan Howard, and he stole 37 bases. And in 2005, while he was with the Marlins, Carlos Delgado and Miguel Cabrera hit in the middle of the order. Pierre swiped 57 bases that year.
If Pierre is told to hold up, it will be Redmond's call.
"It's one of those things," Pierre said. "If Red doesn't want me to run, I won't run. I've played with Ryan Howard and Delgado, when he was here. Those guys can drive the ball. We'll play that one by ear, and see how teams react.
"The goal is try to get to third base with less than two outs. I think as a Major League hitter, you will score more times than not if you do that. Whether they walk the big man or not. We'll see how they do it. But I'm always looking to go."
One of the hardest working players in the game, Pierre is being counted on to help provide an example for a young team.
"As the leadoff hitter, he's kind of the catalyst to our team," Redmond said. "One of the reasons among many of why we brought him in was to be a good influence on our young players. Knowing exactly what kind of player he is and what kind of person he is, he's done exactly already what we want him to do.
"We have so many young players. These guys are so new to the big leagues and this atmosphere. It's great to see at 6 o'clock every morning, you see Juan Pierre working out."