In 130 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, current Miami Marlins left fielder Juan Pierre batted .307 while stealing 37 bases. When Miami signed the speedy outfielder to a one-year contract before the season started, they likely weren't expecting him to put up numbers such as those to begin the year.
Pierre was signed by Miami because the organization was confident that he would be a veteran clubhouse presence who could serve as a mentor to some of the younger players in the clubhouse. They were also hoping, though, that he could provide the Marlins with a spark at the top of the lineup.
For the last several years, Miami has had a variety of different leadoff hitters. Chris Coghlan was the team's leadoff hitter when he won the Rookie of the Year award in 2009, but when the Marlins signed shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year contract last offseason, it appeared that the team would have its leadoff hitter for several seasons. After the fire sale trade with the Blue Jays, that wasn't the case.
To give Pierre credit, it appeared as if every Marlin was struggling to get on base and drive in a run through the first three weeks of the season. However, it all started with Pierre, who early on hasn't proven that he could consistently get on base.
For a team that has struggled to score runs, production from Pierre at the top of the lineup is necessary. To begin the year, Pierre is batting .207 and has driven in a pair of runs and stolen five bases.
"Just getting anybody on has been a struggle," Pierre said. "If you're a leadoff guy -- that's why I was brought in to get on base and cause havoc and make it easier on the rest of the guys in the lineup. I haven't got it done."
Heading into the season, it appeared that the team's opening day left fielder would get off to a hot start. Pierre's spring average was .328 over the course of 19 games.
The stolen bases will always be there for Pierre, who is three steals away from having 600 in his career. He just has to find a way to get on base, and the opportunities to score runs will be there.
"It just happens," Pierre said. "I've been through it before unfortunately. It's more that the team is not winning and I'm not doing well and me [contributing] to the team losing. I'm fine physically and mentally. It's frustrating, but something you go through in the course of a season."