On offense, Pierre entered Sunday’s game with just three hits over his last 25 at-bats (.120) during the previous six games. On the base paths, Pierre had been caught stealing in eight of his last 10 attempts.
Both issues surfaced early against the A’s. Pierre opened the game with a single, but two batters later he was picked off first as he seemed to struggle to pick up the move of Oakland starter Trevor Cahill.
His issues at the plate would become even more glaring. With runners on first and second and one out in the third inning, Pierre grounded into the unusual 4-3-6-3 double play to end the threat.
With a chance at redemption in the fifth inning, Pierre came to the plate with runners on first and third with one out, but again it was a double-play grounder that halted the scoring chance, this one of the more conventional 4-6-3 variety.
It was just the second time the fleet-footed Pierre hit into two double plays in a game in his career, the last coming in April of last season.
But he wasn’t finished. With Omar Vizquel at third base and one out in the seventh inning, Pierre twice failed to get down the bunt on a safety squeeze. He ended up grounding out to first base, but Alexei Ramirez picked up the two-out run with a single to left.
Pierre is the only traditional leadoff man the White Sox have on the roster, but he isn’t stealing bases this season and even worse, his .315 on-base percentage heading into play Sunday was 15th among all qualifying leadoff hitters.
But his approach to the game, as well as his conditioning level, remains unquestioned, so the White Sox will stick with their veteran. He was also struggling in the early going last season before turning it on when the Sox got hot and made a run late in the first half.
“One thing about Juan, you’re going to see the same one tomorrow,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s going to go out and play the game, and play the game right. When you play every day, you’re going to go through a tough time. He’ll be there batting first again. I don’t worry about him because he’s a professional. He will battle. That’s not the first time he’s gone through it and he will find a way.”
Reporting from Chicago.