Pierre back in spotlight on South Side

Pierre back in spotlight on South Side

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension in 2009 for violating Major League Baseball's drug prevention policy actually turned out to be a boost for Juan Pierre's career.

More than giving Pierre the chance to play on a daily basis, though, it put the name of this former everyday player back into the forefront.

"With it being Manny, the exposure opened some eyes that I could still play," said Pierre, who hit .318 with 21 stolen bases and a .381 on-base percentage while starting those 50 games. "If I would have just stepped in and played in another situation, it probably would not have been such a big deal.

"In baseball, if you don't play, they forget about you. All the articles about Juan Pierre needing to play, and with us playing so late on the West Coast, they really did forget about me."

Pierre certainly won't be forgotten in Chicago. The fleet-footed leadoff man had been targeted by the White Sox over the past three years and finally was acquired in an offseason trade for pitchers John Ely and Jon Link.

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From 2003-07, Pierre played in every game for the Marlins (2003-05), Cubs (2006) and Dodgers (2007). He admitted to being a bit bitter over his workload being reduced to 119 games and 375 at-bats in 2008, but he took the approach of simply being ready to play at any time for Los Angeles in 2009.

That approach paid major dividends when Ramirez was suspended. Pierre probably won't play in 162 games for the White Sox, not with manager Ozzie Guillen's desire to keep the bench fresh. But Pierre is looking forward to his first full-time move to the American League and his chance to be a major daily contributor once again.

"It's good to be looked at as one of the guys to help the team win," said Pierre, who has five years with batting averages above .300 and never has hit below .276. "If I bring the game I've had over the years, we'll be fine.

"The American League is more of a hitters' league. They hit a lot more, having the extra guy in the lineup, and I've been told [the pitchers] throw more breaking balls. I'm just trying to go out and have fun and not put too much emphasis on the different league."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.