GLENDALE, Ariz. - Without actually saying it, Juan Pierre basically admitted on Sunday that he had requested a trade at the end of last season. At the same time, the veteran outfielder's early arrival at spring training, four days before position players are required to report, seemed to suggest his attitude and approach won't be adversely affected by the fact he still plays for the Dodgers.
Even if, for the second year in a row, he might not play for them very much.
"I don't want to get into that right now," Pierre said. "But if you're a normal person, you don't want to play in 60-some games. So you can use your own logic as far as whether I asked for a trade. I think it would help both sides. But I know the market has changed."
Pierre, whose major league-leading consecutive-games streak ended at 434 games when he didn't play in last year's season opener, enters this spring amid the same uncertainty that plagued him a year ago. Back then, it was because the Dodgers had four everyday-caliber outfielders and only three spots to wedge them into. This time, it's because no one knows whether the club will re-sign Manny Ramirez, a move that presumably would push Pierre into the same fourth-outfielder role he occupied for most of last season.
Pierre said that while his agent was in touch with team officials over the winter, he himself had no communication with general manager Ned Colletti or manager Joe Torre.
"I didn't know what to tell him," Torre said.
Although he exchanged pleasantries with Pierre on the way to the field before Sunday's workout, Torre still doesn't know what to say. And until the Ramirez matter is resolved one way or the other, he probably won't.
"Right now, you have to look like it like (Pierre) is our regular left fielder while a decision is made on Manny," Torre said. "You know he has certainly proven he can do it. Last year, we had some getting used to each other going on. Once that took place, I know one thing, I appreciated his professionalism. He wasn't playing, but he never stopped helping other players, and if you wanted him off the bench, he was always ready."
Pierre actually started more than half the Dodgers' games (85) last season and appeared in 119 of them. He became an everyday starter when Andruw Jones went onto the disabled list in May and remained one until he himself suffered a strained knee ligament in late June, causing him to miss a month. But by the time Pierre returned, the Dodgers were a few days shy of acquiring Ramirez, a move that would send Pierre back to the bench.
His .283 average and team-leading 40 stolen bases aside, Pierre now says he doesn't feel he was a contributor.
"Honestly, no," Pierre said. "I talked to the younger kids. But not being able to perform on the field was torture to me.
I can't complain, because all those (other outfielders) were playing well. All you can ask for in this game is an opportunity to go out there and compete for a job. I'm not saying I'm (a) slouch, either. I know all the criticism of what I can and can't do, but I can do a lot of things to help the team. One thing I can't do is hit for power. I'm not a power guy, but I think they knew that before they signed me to a five-year deal."
That $44 million contract, which has three years and $38.5 million remaining, makes any trade involving Pierre difficult for the Dodgers. But it also isn't entirely clear whether Colletti even tried. Colletti and Torre still consider Pierre a valuable piece, whether he is in the everyday lineup or coming off the bench.
Pierre seemed happy and was in an upbeat mood as he arrived at camp. Waiting in his locker when he got here was an authentic Reggie Bush New Orleans Saints jersey, a gift from backup catcher and fellow Louisianan Danny Ardoin, and an appreciative Pierre immediately hung it in a prominent place. The uncertainty of his situation notwithstanding, Pierre was in his element, and his demeanor reflected exactly that.
"I have always been a person of faith," Pierre said. "I'm still in a good situation (despite) the economy. Guys like (free agents) Garret Anderson and Orlando Hudson don't have jobs, and that amazes me. I have a uniform to put on, and I'm grateful for that."