Inside the Phillies: Phillies' Pierre setting a good example for young teammates

"He's the guy I'd like to have most of our young guys . . . emulate," Ruben Amaro Jr. says of Juan Pierre.
"He's the guy I'd like to have most of our young guys . . . emulate," Ruben Amaro Jr. says of Juan Pierre. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: August 08, 2012

The daily routine begins around 3:30 p.m.

Juan Pierre plays a short game of catch with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin before stepping into the batting cage for a prolonged session of bunting practice. Mackanin is his pitcher.

Target practice begins with bunts pushed to the right side of the field. A white bucket normally used to store baseballs serves as the desired landing spot.

The 34-year outfielder lays down bunt after bunt after bunt while his teammates are still inside the air-conditioned clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

This is Pierre's extra work, and the intensity has remained the same despite the recent news from manager Charlie Manuel that his playing time was being reduced to accommodate the return of Domonic Brown.

It's somewhat surprising that Pierre is still here. When it became apparent that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would be conducting a clearance sale at the trade deadline, Pierre was a likely candidate to be moved elsewhere.

Not so, Amaro said.

"I wasn't all that anxious to move him," the general manager said Monday night. "He has been the consummate professional. He has played well and contributed well for us, and I have no complaints. There is no real reason or urgency to move the guy."

Amaro said teams have inquired about Pierre, but he is not inclined to give away a guy hitting .313 with a .352 on-base percentage without receiving legitimate compensation.

"There is no reason to do it," Amaro said.

With the addition of Brown and of Nate Schierholtz in the Hunter Pence trade, the Phillies are now overloaded with lefthanded-hitting outfielders. The list also includes Laynce Nix, who is signed through next season. Amaro said he would not discount bringing back Pierre for another season.

"We still haven't figured out everything we're going to do in 2013," Amaro said. "We have a lot of questions to answer. But Juan is kind of the perfect guy to have on your club. He's professional, he's prepared, and he can do a lot of positive things for your club. We'll see what happens, but I love the guy."

In his fourth season as general manager, Amaro has made his share of mistakes. The signing of Pierre to a one-year deal worth $800,000 is not among them. Pierre was signed as a minor-league free agent just a couple of weeks before the start of spring training and, thanks to John Mayberry Jr.'s disappointing season, played a lot more than anticipated.

A day after reaching base on a pinch-hit single and scoring the game-winning run against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pierre said he was not surprised that the trade deadline came and went without him being sent elsewhere.

"No, not really," he said. "Considering how spring training was for me. Thirty teams passed up on me then. I played decent this year, but my game is not [typical] of the way the game is being played now. I'm happy where I'm at, that's for sure."

Pierre had more than 700 plate appearances in his previous two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, so this season was an adjustment even when he was playing on a semi-regular basis. He admitted that he'd prefer to be playing more now, but he stopped well short of complaining about it.

"Once they made those trades and I wasn't going anywhere, I was aware of the situation," Pierre said. "I was one of those young guys once, so I totally understand. They don't have that many ties to me. They don't owe me a lot of money. I haven't been here a lot of years, but whatever way I can help, I'm willing to help."

The fact that Pierre has graciously accepted his reduced role is another example of why Amaro and the Phillies do not mind that he is still around. They are hoping his work ethic and overall attitude rubs off on some of his teammates.

Brown's locker was placed next to Pierre's in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, and Michael Martinez would be wise to join the veteran outfielder during those daily bunting sessions.

"Not just Martinez, but [Jimmy] Rollins . . . and obviously now Domonic Brown," Amaro said. "To be frank, he's the guy I'd like to have most of our young guys most emulate."

He's a very positive influence in the clubhouse, a great team player and a good teammate. There is no reason not to have him, and he's also on a very good contract."


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or on Twitter @brookob.

 

|
|
|
|
|