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All Eyes On Pierre & Other Bits...


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Posted on Wed, Jun. 09, 2004



Are all eyes on Pierre?






Juan Pierre led the majors with 65 stolen bases last season, but he came into Tuesday's game with just 15 steals in 25 chances this year because, he said, opposing defenses are gearing up to stop him.


''They've never done this in the past, the way they're paying attention to me now,'' said Pierre, who averaged more than 52 steals in each of his three full big-league seasons. ``If I fake like I'm going to go, I can see the catcher already trying to get rid of the ball.''


And because so many pitchers have gone to the slide step with Pierre on base, he has found it difficult to get the kind of aggressive leads he took last year. As a result, he has been thrown out the past three times he has tried to steal.


But manager Jack McKeon said Pierre still has the green light to run whenever he wants because as long as teams are paying attention to the baserunners, the batters are likely to get better pitches to hit.


'I told the guys coming up behind me, `Be ready to hit on that fastball,' '' Pierre said. ``The threat of stealing may be better than stealing a base sometimes.


``Definitely, I want to steal bases, but if I don't steal as many as I did last year and we still have the team success that we had last year, I think it will still be successful.''




Although the Marlins have holes to fill at catcher and in the bullpen, the club is concentrating on acquiring a veteran reliever to set up closer Armando Benitez. The team was reportedly looking at Kansas City's Jason Grimsley before the right-hander collided with first baseman Ken Harvey on Sunday.


Grimsley (3-2, 3.22 ERA), who was listed as day-to-day with a bruised jaw, is a better fit for the Marlins' budget than Kansas City teammate Scott Sullivan, a favorite of McKeon's when both were in Cincinnati, and another name that has come up in trade talks. Sullivan, who went into Tuesday's game 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in 27 1/3 innings, is making $2.1 million.




With the Marlins playing their next five games in American League parks, McKeon says he'll use the designated hitter as a way to rest some regulars while giving some bench players needed at-bats.


Mike Lowell, who has started all but one game at third base, will DH one of the games in Cleveland, McKeon said, giving Mike Mordecai a start in the infield. And Lenny Harris, who has the second-fewest at-bats on the team, also will see some action as a designated hitter.


''We should get a few guys in there,'' McKeon said.


But with the Marlins carrying 12 pitchers, having an extra hitter in the lineup could further shorten the bench, limiting McKeon's options late in the game.


''Always when you're one man short it's going to stop you from making some moves,'' McKeon said.




The Marlins spent 22 of their 32 picks on pitchers on the second day of baseball's amateur draft. The first of those was Florida State right-hander Rhett James, who was taken in the 20th round. The Marlins also picked Seminole Community College pitcher Drew Shetrone in the 35th round and Bethune-Cookman first baseman Juan Figueroa in the 37th.


In the two-day, 50-round draft, the Marlins selected 28 pitchers, 10 infielders, eight outfielders and four catchers. Half the Marlins draft choices came from four-year colleges, 17 are in high school and eight are junior college players.




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