Sunday, August 14, 2011
Guillen's faith in Juan Pierre has paid off
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- After defending Juan Pierre earlier this season when nearly everybody else thought the veteran looked washed up, manager Ozzie Guillen had an I-told-you-so moment Sunday.
“In baseball, most of the time, I don’t see 100 percent of the time, the water gets to [its] level and it stay there,” Guillen said. “You see maybe a few people here and there. That’s why I say, for two months, people hate that kid. It was embarrassing how people were talking about him. It was sad. Sometimes I got angry about it.”
What Guillen did was defend Pierre’s work ethic and promise that if given the time his production would reach expected levels.
“They don’t know who Juan Pierre was and is. Listen, when you say money, you will get money. This kid work hard every day and the production is out there. When you struggle and you just don’t do anything to get better, then you are not going to get better. Juan Pierre, he show up and play and play every day the right way.
Even when Pierre’s batting average was at .248 as late as June 24, Guillen stood by his side. Even when he had an on-base percentage of .310, hardly what was needed from a leadoff man, the manager believed in his guy.
“I remember making this comment, 'I wish I had 25 Juan Pierres,' and people were making fun of me,” Guillen said. “I said, 'yes, it’s not what he does, it’s the way he goes about his job.' Those ignorants out there who never show up at the ballpark to watch, they can say whatever they want. But when you have a kid here at 12 o’clock in the afternoon who works to get better, the baseball gods will protect you.”
Pierre entered Sunday’s game with a .285 batting average and a .340 on-base percentage. Not only that, but his base stealing has improved, as well as his defense in left field. To get there, Pierre batted .352 (58-165) over his last 41 games (before Sunday).
His start wasn't what anybody, including Pierre, was looking for. Ultimately, though, he has been able to provide what was expected.
“When I make the lineup, Juan Pierre, as long as Ozzie Guillen is the manager, he’s playing,” Guillen said. “A lot of people thought I was against [GM] Kenny [Williams] or [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf]. No, it’s the way it is. I make the lineup card. And I want to play the best guy I think is out there.
“Maybe he’s not the best or what the people want to see. I never make the lineup card thinking about what people have to say or do. I’m going to make the best lineup card for that particular day.”