LOS ANGELES -- Before Andruw Jones underwent knee surgery on May 27, Dodgers manager Joe Torre based his decision on which of his four outfielders to start mostly by feel. When the center fielder returns after the All-Star break, Torre said Jones will take back his starting spot in center and Juan Pierre will stay in left field, leaving Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for right field.
Torre said the right-field situation will not be a straight platoon between the righty Kemp and lefty Ethier."More likely, it would be who's playing well or who has a hot bat or who seems to have more life in their body, or something like that," Torre said. "It's going to be more a feel thing than just a platoon thing." When leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal returns, which is expected this weekend in San Francisco, Pierre will likely slide down a spot from the leadoff spot he has occupied in all 49 games including Sunday since Furcal went down with lower back soreness. Torre likes what Pierre can do in the No. 2 spot such as moving runners over, and he likes Furcal's extra-base ability out of the leadoff spot. Although the Dodgers have struggled to a 20-28 mark entering Sunday without Furcal after starting 18-14 with him, Torre said that has not been Pierre's fault. "He's certainly been a player through this whole thing who's been a consistent guy, every day refuses to acknowledge bumps and bruises that he's nursing," Torre said. "He's been great, he really has. I can't think of any way to explain it." Although Pierre did not even start on Opening Day and started just 16 of 32 games before Furcal's injury forced him into the leadoff spot, Torre said his play has earned him that starting job. Pierre's 22 multihit games entering Sunday are tied with James Loney for the team lead, and he has stolen 13 bases in his past 19 games, getting caught just once. He's even knocked in a few runs, driving in runs in five of six games from June 14-20. "About half the month of April and right through the month of June he's been really great, and I can't ignore what a difference he's made," Torre said.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.