Juan Pierre has big goals.
“Twenty home runs,” he said.
That is for his career.
Pierre will get a lot of attention for his 17th career homer, a three-run blast off James Shields in Saturday’s 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
While Jim Thome was deservedly in the spotlight with his walk-off pinch hit home run in the ninth inning, the play of Pierre in this game and this season has been one of the bright spots this year.
Pierre was on base four times. He also singled, reached base on an error and was hit by a pitch.
He is now batting .328 this season and has 16 stolen bases after swiping two more on Saturday.
Yet Pierre was truly enjoying his most recent home run,
“I have three more to 20,” he said. “All I am trying to do is get to 20.”
And he thinks there could be more power to come.
“Usually I don’t hit one in the first half so I may be on a pace for two,” he said.
His career high is three, a total he has achieved twice.
Pierre said his teammates were giving him the business for his 377-foot homer to right field.
“Guys were giving me flack,” he said laughing. “I said, ‘I only hit 17 of them and let me enjoy it, at least for a half inning, let me enjoy it.”
There hasn’t been a lot to enjoy this season so Pierre will take his moments when they come.
And in talking to Pierre and others in the clubhouse, one can see how much they enjoyed seeing Thome hit the walk-off homer, the 13th of his career.
“When he hit it, there was so much excitement for Jimbo, you wouldn’t want another guy to do it,” Pierre said. “He was waiting, getting his hacks and was ready and came through.”
And so did Pierre. He was more than happy to take some good-natured ribbing from his teammates.
The Phillies certainly needed something to loosen things up. They just never thought it would come from an unexpected Pierre power surge.