Dodgers trade outfielder Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox

Share via

Juan Pierre became an every-day player again Tuesday.

Relegated to a bench role only two seasons into his five-year, $44-million contract with the Dodgers, Pierre was shipped to the Chicago White Sox for two minor league pitchers to be named, ending what he admitted was the toughest stretch of his major-league career.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to play again,” said Pierre, who first asked the Dodgers to trade him last winter.

The Dodgers freed themselves of $8 million of the $18.5 million Pierre is owed over the next two seasons, as the White Sox agreed to pay $3 million of his salary in 2010 and $5 million in 2011.


Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said the move should not be viewed a salary dump, as the team has plans to use the money saved on player acquisitions.

“This frees us up,” Colletti said, adding that the Dodgers remain focused on adding a starting pitcher, second baseman and bench players.

Vilified by fans who believed he was overpaid, Pierre was displaced as the Dodgers’ starting center fielder when the team signed Andruw Jones heading into the 2008 season. Jones was awful, but Pierre remained on the bench. Then the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez.

Pierre did not play regularly again until Ramirez was suspended for 50 games this year. During that stretch, Pierre batted .318 and stole 21 bases, helping the Dodgers go 29-21 and remain in first place.

The period changed his relationship with the fans.

On the day Ramirez played his first game at Dodger Stadium following his suspension, Pierre received a standing ovation from the home crowd.

“The ovation he got choked me up because he deserved it,” Colletti said.

Said Pierre: “The fans and I came a long way.”

In Pierre’s view, the way he replaced Ramirez did something else: “It put me back on the radar,” he said.


Colletti said he was working on a three-way deal that would have sent an established major league pitcher to the Dodgers, only to have one of the three teams pull out.

White Sox GM Ken Williams first approached Colletti last week at the winter meetings in Indianapolis. One of the two pitchers the Dodgers are expected to acquire is John Ely, a 23-year-old right-hander who was 14-2 with a 2.82 earned-run average for double-A Birmingham this year.

Williams said Pierre would be his team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter.

Pierre, who had a streak of 434 consecutive games snapped on opening day of the 2008 season, said he was ready to play every day again.

“If I’m healthy, I want to be out there,” he said. “I’ve had two years of storage. My legs have saved up for a couple of years. If they ask me if I want to play, I’m going to say, ‘Yes.’

“I’ve been in the witness protection program for the last two years.”

Pierre said he didn’t consider his last three years a waste.

“When I first signed with them, people were like, ‘What in the world were they thinking?’ ” he said. “I’ve been criticized so much in the last three years, so I’m ready for the Chicago media. All in all, it’s made me a stronger person.”

Citing his religious faith, Pierre said he had no doubt that he would one day be granted the trade he sought.


At the same time, he said that his change in fortune was a result of a change in attitude.

“The first year, I was mad and bitter,” he said. “This year, I was fine with everything.

“I was prepared either way, if it happened or didn’t happen. I knew what my role in L.A. was going to be and I was fine with that.”