WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers have one of the premier September hitters in the major leagues on their roster, but he figures to watch this September from the bench.
He’s Juan Pierre, whose .335 career average in September ranks third among all active major leaguers with 500 at-bats in the month, according to STATS LLC. Todd Helton ranks first at .343, followed by Albert Pujols, Pierre, Derek Jeter and Vladimir Guerrero.
“That is the reason why you go so hard in the off-season,” Pierre said. “This is the time you like to show it. Everybody is fresh in the first half. When other guys get tired, that’s when I’m at my strongest.
“Usually, you’re in a pennant race, and I’m in those races. It’s different right now.”
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he has no plans to remove Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp or Manny Ramirez from the Dodgers’ outfield.
“Where do I go?” Torre said. “Certainly, I feel very bad about what has happened. We didn’t expect to include Manny Ramirez in our lineup at the time Juan was such a huge part of it.
“Ethier has been pretty consistent. He gives you the threat of a home run too, even if you lose the speed. Kemp seems to be maturing into something special.”
Pierre, who is in the second year of a five-year, $44-million contract, has started once in the last two weeks.
Torre flipped Jeff Kent and Ramirez in the lineup, moving Ramirez to third and dropping Kent to fourth.
He was concerned, he said, that he might minimize the number of runners on base for Ramirez.
St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa has alleviated his concern about batting Pujols third by batting the Cardinals’ pitcher eighth, ensuring Pujols would hit in the first inning but also enabling three batters to precede him in every other at-bat.
But on a night Torre rested catcher Russell Martin and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra before the weekend series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, he batted catcher Danny Ardoin seventh and shortstop Angel Berroa eighth and did not consider either one in the No. 9 spot.
“I’m not sure if Ardoin and Berroa are going to add to the probability of getting people on base,” Torre said.
Baseball and softball are out of the Olympics, now that the Beijing Games are over. The International Olympic Committee is not inclined to re-admit baseball unless major leaguers will play; Major League Baseball is not inclined to shut down its season for the Olympics.
Garciaparra played for Team USA in the Barcelona Games in 1992.
“I couldn’t care less if they don’t have major leaguers,” he said. “The biggest tragedy is they’re getting rid of softball. What’s the excuse for that? We’re not sending major leaguers?”
The world’s best softball players compete in the Olympics, but softball officials have said they fear that some IOC members view baseball and softball as a package deal.
“The excuses they use are awful and tired,” Garciaparra said.
Pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney, who had reached base in five consecutive appearances, made his first out in nine days. . . . The Dodgers activated reliever Cory Wade and designated reliever Tanyon Sturtze for assignment.