Pierre on board with move to left field
Veteran outfielder OK with change, but not losing starting job
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Juan Pierre won't be happy if he's moved to the bench, but he's on board with moving to left field after the signing of Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones.
"I'm no dummy. He's won 10 Gold Gloves and they got him to play center field and I have no choice but to move and do the best job I can," said Pierre on Monday, little more than a year after signing a $44 million contract he thought would have him playing center field for the Dodgers for five years.
"I'm not the kind of guy who says I have to play center field. If it makes the team better, I'm not walking around sulking. I'll play like I always play."
But, if Jones' acquisition is coupled with Matt Kemp starting in right field and Andre Ethier moving Pierre to a bench role, "maybe then they'd do something with me.
"Some people value what I do and some people don't," he said. "I don't know their thought process. All I can do is play hard. I'm close to Kemp and Ethier. There's no rift with any of them. I wish everybody the best. At the end of the day, we have to see a benefit to the team. If not, they might have to look at getting rid of me if they don't see me as an asset.
"They said I would more than likely move to left field. They didn't say nothing as far as competing for a job. My approach every year is as if I'm competing for a job so, mentally, it's no different."
Pierre has a partial no-trade clause he said allows him to list five off-limits clubs, but stressed that he hasn't thought about a trade or asked for one. However, he also said he wished there had been more communication from the club regarding his situation other than phone calls from general manager Ned Colletti and manager Joe Torre after Jones' signing.
Even after acquiring Jones, Colletti has maintained his support of Pierre that criticism of the outfielder as the cause of the club's struggles last year was unfair.
Pierre said he heard from the media as early as the final day of last season that he might be asked to move to left field. He monitored rumors through family members during the winter and said he was prepared for what happened, even if he didn't particularly like it.
"It is what it is. I wouldn't say I was upset, but I stopped watching TV," he said. "To sign Andruw, I'm not a power hitter, so I can't get too offended. But when people say they finally got a center fielder, that kind of hurt a bit. I have the utmost respect for Andruw. I'm a big Andruw Jones fan."
Because of a unique skill set relying on speed, Pierre is one of the most divisive Dodgers players in recent years and he knows it.
"I play my game," he said. "I'm not a power guy. Some people like my game, some people don't. It's not pretty in the box score. I'm not a guy you see all over 'SportsCenter.'
"If Andruw drives in runs, everybody will be happy. We've all got a job to do. You can't say that Andruw's here and everything's OK. But I take full responsibility for my game last season. If I did my job better, the season would have turned out better."
Primarily a leadoff hitter through his career, Pierre hit .293, scored 96 runs with 196 hits and stole 64 bases while batting second behind Rafael Furcal. Critics point to a .331 on-base percentage to go with a .353 slugging percentage. Defensively, Pierre's throwing arm was an invitation for opposing runners to take extra bases.
Pierre, 30, has played in 434 consecutive games, the longest active streak in baseball. He said it wouldn't hurt his pride if the streak stopped, but if he lost his starting job entirely, that would be another story.
"I sign a contract for 162 games and I like to think I honor the contract," he said. "I know the team counts on me. There might be guys that want me to sit, but that's just the way I feel."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.