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Pierre open to any role

first_imgShortstop Rafael Furcal, who will fill whichever spot Pierre doesn’t, hasn’t arrived in spring camp yet and isn’t required to until Tuesday. “I went through a similar situation in Florida with Luis Castillo, who was an established leadoff man and a great leadoff man,” said Pierre, who was traded to the Marlins by Colorado after a 2002 season in which Castillo had a 35-game hitting streak. “I have batted second before and I know Furcal is a great leadoff man who did a great job last year. It won’t change my approach. I always try to take pitches, regardless.” Manager Grady Little plans to try both Pierre-Furcal and Furcal-Pierre alignments during Grapefruit League games before deciding on a lineup for the regular season. Little has promised only that once he decides, he won’t change unless the alignment fails to produce over time. In other words, he won’t flip the left-handed-hitting Pierre and switch-hitting Furcal just because the Dodgers are facing a certain pitcher. Although he has spent the majority of his career leading off – including 158 games with the Chicago Cubs last season – Pierre’s lifetime on-base percentage (.350) is low for a leadoff man. Pierre says that statistic is misleading. “I try to get my walks,” Pierre said. “I rarely swing at first pitches and I get a lot of 2-0, 3-1 counts. But I usually won’t take a pitch just off the plate because I don’t trust the umpire to call it a ball, and I also expand my zone a little bit with two strikes.” VERO BEACH, Fla. – Juan Pierre refused to fan any controversial flames Saturday when addressing one of the off-season’s hot-button issues for the first time. The fleet center fielder, whom the Dodgers signed to a five-year, $44 million contract in November, said he has no preference between batting first or second in the lineup. center_img Pierre has two factors working against him. First, he is such a lethal stolen-base threat – he has stolen as many as 65 in a season – that pitchers are hesitant to walk him. Pitchers who fall behind in the count aren’t afraid to come back with meaty fastballs because Pierre never has hit more than three home runs in a season. “They know if they keep it over the plate, the worst they’re going to give up is probably a double,” Pierre said. “It’s kind of a catch-22 situation.” You can add non-roster right-hander Joe Mays, whom the Dodgers signed less than two weeks ago, to the long list of those battling for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Little said before Saturday’s first workout of the spring for pitchers and catchers that Mays will be kept on a starter’s throwing program at least through the early part of camp. “He has a good history,” Little said. “He will be given the opportunity to make this ballclub, and we will certainly try to put him in a position he is most comfortable with.” Mays, 31, has spent most of his seven-year career in the majors as a starter, but his overall success has been spotty. He is 48-70 with a 5.05 ERA after six seasons with Minnesota and splitting last year between Cincinnati and Kansas City. Several of the Dodgers’ brain trust walked out to Holman Stadium together for the start of the morning workout. But when they broke off into various side conversations, special assistant Bill Mueller found himself standing alone in the right-field corner, watching what should have been his teammates going through their paces with strength coach Doug Jarrow. Mueller, the former third baseman and batting champion who signed a two-year, $9.5 million free-agent deal with the Dodgers before last season, was forced into early retirement and a front-office career because of a knee injury. “It’s always difficult to not be playing when you feel like your skills are at a level where you still could play,” Mueller said. “But that’s the way it is. “I still love the game, and that’s why I wanted to do what I’m doing now.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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