Marlins

Marlins’ Juan Pierre embraces his different role

 

Juan Pierre, who played in every Marlins game from 2003 to 2005, is a mentor with limited playing time in his second Miami tenure.

rnadkarni@MiamiHerald.com

At first glance, it could be hard to tell that long-time fan favorite Juan Pierre turned 36 on Aug. 14.

Pierre, who signed with Miami in November 2012 for a second stint with the organization, flashes the same youthful smile and charm that he exhibited when he joined the Marlins as a 25-year-old.

In fact, it’s Pierre’s absence that makes someone pause and think how long he has been in the league.

For example, when Pierre hit leadoff for the Marlins during his first years in Miami, he would roll balls down the third-base line before the game to get a feel for the infield in case he wanted to bunt. But now?

“After all these years, I’ve got every field down pat,” Pierre said.

It’s also the absence from the playing field that is unlike the “J.P.” Marlins fans grew to love during the 2003 World Series run.

From 2003 to 2005, Pierre played in 162 games for three seasons in a row. He became the first Marlin to record 200 hits in a season, and batted .333 against the Yankees in the World Series.

In 2012, Pierre has been used sparingly, with the Marlins focused on grooming their young prospects. His .242 batting average in 87 games is by far the lowest of his career.

“It’s been totally different,” Pierre said of his second tour. “Everybody knows I’d still love to be out there, but I know the role has changed. I embrace it and try to help out.”

Pierre maintains good relationships with the younger players on the team. He has tried to pass on as much of his wisdom as possible, including how to prepare each day and how to handle the grind of the major leagues.

Pierre, a free agent after the season, said he hasn’t given much thought to next year but believes he’s capable of contributing to a team.

But don’t expect a goodbye tour when one of the Marlins’ most popular all-time players calls it a career.

“Nobody probably even realizes that I’ve played this long,” Pierre said. “When I stop playing, it will be like no other team wants me, and I’ll just go into my house.”

• Pitcher Jose Fernandez was named co-NL Player of the Week, sharing the honor with the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija. This is the second time in four weeks Fernandez has received the recognition. He had two wins and 16 strikeouts in the past week.

• The Marlins released first baseman Casey Kotchman on Monday. Kotchman spent most of the year on the disabled list and was released after completing rehab.

Coming up

•  Tuesday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-4, 3.82 ERA) at Washington Nationals RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.

•  Wednesday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86) at Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.

•  Scouting report: Eovaldi hasn’t won in his past seven starts. In his last three outings, Eovaldi is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA.

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