During our recent Interleague, cross-town series against the Angels, Torii Hunter joined Orlando Hudson and me on a visit to the Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

The first thing I told the kids is that it's a great facility to have and that we as players love coming out here and doing whatever we can to promote baseball.

I've been playing baseball since I was 5 years old, growing up in the backwoods of Louisiana. We weren't lucky enough to have a facility like this. We played in cow pastures, but still, my whole family grew up playing this great game and loving every second of it. I played, my brother played, my dad played. I was always around baseball.

The one thing I stressed while talking to the kids was that you always need to be having fun while you're learning how to play the game. No matter what you're doing in the game, have fun. Life will get serious enough in the future, so take the time now to enjoy the game.

Whenever I speak with kids, I always tell them to listen to their parents and stay focused on school. You need that education. I tell them that, as they grow older, they should remember to work hard, play hard and follow their hearts.

I also talk about perseverance. I wasn't the biggest guy growing up, and I'm still far from the biggest guy. People doubted me and thought I couldn't play because of my size. I still have to go out and prove myself every day, but I never let other people's doubts deter me from my ultimate dream. So I tell the kids they shouldn't let anyone tell them there's something they can't do.

There is a lot to learn about baseball and life on a baseball field. Staying positive and having a good attitude is important. Respecting your teammates is important.

What they have going on in Compton is a great thing. Anytime I can be a part of it, I will.

Juan Pierre, who grew up in central Louisiana, has given the Dodgers a boost since taking over left field in Manny Ramirez's absence. The 31-year-old speedster is batting .379 with a .439 on-base average, 27 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.