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Peers give Props to Pierre


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DENVER -- The spotlight is finding Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre, even though he never actively searches for it.

The mellow Pierre, the undisputed hardest-working player on the Marlins if not in all of baseball, is receiving recognition as the top leadoff hitter in baseball.


An MLB.com survey of players, managers and front office personnel ranks Pierre right up their with Seattle sensation Ichiro Suzuki as the best in the game.


Others noted in an MLB.com survey are Dodgers' Dave Roberts, Brewers' Scott Podsednik, Twins' Shannon Stewart and Astros' Craig Biggio.


"That blows my mind to be looked at as one of the elite leadoff guys," Pierre said. "I haven't changed that much of my approach or anything. I don't think my numbers are grotesquely different than from when I started. I guess the World Series, with people watching a little bit, helped."


In the MLB.com survey, Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield praised Pierre.


"Juan Pierre and Ichiro," Sheffield said. "I'd give Ichiro the edge over Pierre because he has a little more power, but they both have great on-base percentages, which you need."


Added Sandy Alomar Jr of the White Sox: "I played with Juan Pierre in Colorado, and he's exceptional. He can turn around a team into a contender with his speed. He has the ability to distract a pitching staff and cause them to make mistakes."


If Pierre had a vote, he'd go with Ichiro and Dave Roberts. Pierre also says Pittsburgh's Tike Redman is someone to watch down the line.


What's interesting is, Pierre may not be the best leadoff hitter on the Marlins. Luis Castillo, who led off before Pierre was acquired, is a proven leadoff batter who helps Pierre now by batting second.


"Luis Castillo could be right up there if not leading it," Pierre said. "It makes it a lot easier for me having someone like that behind me."


Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine, who previously played in the American League, likes Pierre and Ichiro.


"He knows his game, and he doesn't try to vary that at all," Conine said of Pierre. "He knows he can get on by a bunt. He can get on by a ground ball. He can get on by a line drive. He's not going to try to do anything outside of his capabilities right now.


He's pretty similar to Ichiro. Ichiro, he can put down a bunt. I don't care who he bunts it to, he's beating it out. The guy is that fast. Very similar type styles. Ichiro has more power. In BP, he launches them like the best power hitters on that team. It's impressive to watch. Both are fine players. [Pierre] is creative. Whatever avenue he needs to get that base hit, whether it's a slap bunt to the shortstop or pulling it down the line. He's great at making that stuff up."




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Can't argue with that. When JP gets on base, you know there is always the possiblity of fireworks and he will be a big reason later on in the year if the Marlins can get back into the playoffs.



He may not have the power of Ichiro, but what he lacks in power, he makes up for everywhere else. :)

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