Pierre collects 2,000th hit with single

Pierre collects 2,000th hit with single

Pierre collects 2,000th hit with single
CHICAGO -- Juan Pierre did more than pick up career hit No. 2,000 with a two-out single off Cleveland starter David Huff in the third inning of Thursday's 8-1 White Sox victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

He actually called his shot.

"I told him he should try to bunt, and he said, 'No, I'm going to hit a bullet through the left side,'" said White Sox captain Paul Konerko of Pierre's single between third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

"We were just joking around, about do I want to bunt?" Pierre said. "I was like, 'No, my ideal one would be in that six-hole over there,' and it happened. I was relieved. Good accomplishment that hasn't sunk in yet."

Pierre became the 14th player to reach 2,000 hits for his career while wearing a White Sox uniform. He's the first to that plateau since Konerko reached 2,000 all the way back on Aug. 23 against the Angels in Anaheim.

With his two hits on Thursday, Pierre's average sits at .284 to go with his 73 runs scored, 43 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. His slow start to the season seems to have been washed away by another strong finish.

Yet, Pierre once again became a lightning rod for criticism, caught in the middle of a June struggle to take him out of the lineup and put Dayan Viciedo in the outfield full-time. Konerko not only vouched for Pierre's tireless work ethic, but pointed out that any fingers pointed at Pierre serve as an unfair judgment.

"It's unfair for sure. But if there's one guy who can handle it, it's him," Konerko said. "You won't get in there with him. You won't affect Juan's approach. He's not going to get rattled. He's as tough as anybody. Real baseball people that look at what is the right thing to be looked at aren't saying it.

"People that are kind of uninformed, sometimes it's one of those things where someone starts saying it and it turns into a snowball thing and everyone is just kind of saying it. But when you look at what is important to winning and people who know that, you just shake your head.

"You know he's a good player and a winning player," Konerko said. "Sometimes there's a disconnect between what we as baseball players know is right and what the outside perception is. It's part of being a big leaguer, but it happens a lot."

Of Pierre's career hit total, 1,668 have gone for singles.

"Those 2,000 hits, I bet you he worked for every one," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He worked for that. I'm very proud to see it."

Pride for the White Sox leadoff man comes more from being ready to play every day, as opposed to amassing numbers.

"I've been around not the longest time but a decent amount of time in the big leagues," Konerko said. "I don't think I've seen anybody get after it like he does to get ready to play a game. He has the respect of everybody. Anybody I've ever talked to says the same thing. It's his whole career."

"As a baseball player, I didn't think anything of stolen bases and hits. [I'm] just a guy who shows up every day to play," Pierre said. "That's the one thing I concentrated on every day, just to be in there fighting and battling with the guys and being in there every day. For people to notice, it's pretty cool, but I did it just to be a teammate. Three months ago, everybody was ready to choke my head off here, but I still wanted to be in there every day."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.