Unsure of future, Pierre grateful for stints with Marlins
Veteran speedster wants to keep playing, but may not fit in young Miami outfield
MIAMI -- If 2013 is indeed the end of Juan Pierre's MLB career, the veteran Marlin is prepared to walk away with no regrets.
The 36-year-old understands his playing time was greatly diminished on a young Marlins team and he might have to explore opportunities elsewhere. But before even considering retirement, Pierre makes it clear he prefers to keep going. He's still a threat on the bases and still has the passion to perform.
So, if there is a team out there in need of his services, Pierre will certainly listen.
"I'm fine. I understand the situation," Pierre said. "I still love to play, that's no secret. I still work out like I'm going to be out there every day. I hope to get a chance to get a job for next year.
"If not, and this is the last hurrah, I can't complain one bit. I can honestly say I never thought I'd play over 13 years in the big leagues. I'm grateful for every opportunity. Physically and mentally, I still feel like I can play at this level."
Pierre just completed his second stint with the Marlins and will be a free agent after the World Series.
The speedster is one of the most popular players in franchise history. As a leadoff batter and center fielder in 2003, he was a major contributor to the organization's second World Series title.
Pierre set the club record for stolen bases with 65 in 2003, and in '04, he batted a personal best .326.
From 2003-05 he brought an unmatched work ethic to the organization and set an example many around the team still aspire to achieve. When the roster was made over after last year, Pierre was signed for $1.6 million to provide a veteran presence on an upstart squad.
At the beginning of the season, he was Miami's regular left fielder and leadoff batter. But his role changed in late July after Christian Yelich was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville. Pierre went from being used every day to sparingly as a reserve.
In 113 games, he batted .247 with 11 doubles, two triples, one home run and eight RBIs. Pierre scored 36 runs and stole 23 bases, his fewest since swiping seven in 51 games as a rookie with Colorado in 2000.
The season did bring some milestone moments for Pierre, who became the 18th player in MLB history to reach 600 stolen bases. He's now at 614. In Spring Training, Pierre was aware he was on the cusp of reaching 600 steals, but he also achieved a benchmark that caught him off-guard.
In August, it was brought to his attention that he was closing in on Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio on MLB's all-time hits list.
Pierre passed the Yankee Clipper for 175th all-time in September and now sits at 2,217 career hits.
The Marlins recognized Pierre's achievements with a nice ceremony before their season finale at Marlins Park.
"It was nice to be able to reach those milestones, especially in a Marlins uniform," Pierre said. "To know you have played over 13 years and you made a little dent in the game, you actually had some longevity and success, it's pretty cool."
Pierre broke in with the Rockies in 2000 and has played for six organizations, including Miami.
The Marlins have a surplus of outfielders, making it questionable as to whether Pierre would be a fit for 2014.
Along with Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, Jake Marisnick and Marcell Ozuna are expected to compete for roster spots. And Justin Ruggiano, arbitration eligible for the first time, is a candidate to sign. Whether Pierre is a fit is under discussion as Miami's front office plans for next year.
"It all depends which direction they want to go," Pierre said. "I'd definitely be up to talking to them. But the direction they are going in, and how sparingly I did play, I don't know. I know they were trying out guys in the second half.
"If they do want to talk, I'd be willing to talk. If not, they gave me a chance to come back here. I got a big league job here. I didn't play well this year, but I played hard. I did what I normally do. I just didn't have the successes that I normally had. Overall, I think it was a learning year for everybody."