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Pierre offers insight on Marlins' rebuild

Former Miami OF draws from experience to encourage young prospects
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- In his playing days with the Marlins, Juan Pierre experienced the elation of winning a World Series championship and the frustration of a 100-loss season.

Pierre knows firsthand what both extremes are like. In 2003, he provided game-changing speed as a leadoff hitter on a title team. In '13, his final year in the big leagues, he was a veteran who offered leadership on a rebuilding squad.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- In his playing days with the Marlins, Juan Pierre experienced the elation of winning a World Series championship and the frustration of a 100-loss season.

Pierre knows firsthand what both extremes are like. In 2003, he provided game-changing speed as a leadoff hitter on a title team. In '13, his final year in the big leagues, he was a veteran who offered leadership on a rebuilding squad.

Still assisting the Marlins when needed, Pierre has plenty of insight about what the club's young players can expect in 2018.

"For young guys, this is an excellent opportunity for you to make your name in the Major Leagues," Pierre said. "Having Don Mattingly as your first manager is big. Everybody remembers their first manager. I remember Buddy Bell. Guys are like, 'That's my first manager.' So you can really mold these guys. It's not going to be easy. It's the day-to-day grind."

Pierre, 40, broke in with the Rockies in 2000. Before the '03 season, he was dealt to Miami, where he made an immediate impact. He led the Majors in stolen bases with 65 that season, which remains a club record.

Pierre was traded to the Cubs after the 2005 season, during another period when the Marlins overhauled their roster. He returned to Miami in '13, amid another rebuilding cycle, and he was a stabilizer in the clubhouse for a team that finished 62-100.

Video: MIA@SD: Pierre steals second base in the third

After eight straight losing seasons, the Marlins are going through another roster makeover. They've made four major trades this offseason, the most recent of which sent Christian Yelich to the Brewers for four prospects, including outfielder Lewis Brinson.

On Tuesday, Pierre surprised Brinson by showing up at his workout in Coral Springs, Fla.

Video: Brinson honored to meet Marlins great Pierre

Getting the two together worked out logistically, with Pierre living nearby in Parkland, Fla. As a South Florida native, Brinson grew up rooting for the Marlins, and Pierre was his favorite player. Now, Pierre is offering him some pointers.

"It might take some bumps and bruises," Pierre said of what 2018 may look like. "But when you see the Lewis Brinsons and guys, you have to remember -- with all the negative of this offseason -- when you see this guy so excited to play, a hometown kid, you can't forget about the players."

As it builds from the bottom up, Miami is bracing for some lean years. But Pierre encourages fans to support the players.

"The players they got, they didn't have nothing to do with it," Pierre said. "So you have to support these guys, because they're living out a dream. They're getting an opportunity to play big league baseball for the Marlins. You can't lose that sight of it, even with all the stuff that is going around with it."

Pierre said the young players also should benefit by having Mattingly, a former American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, as their manager.

"I think it's big," Pierre said. "No. 1, he's a guy who has been there and done that. He's been the captain of the Yankees, and he relates to the younger guys. He still remembers how hard the game is to play, and he still remembers that you've got a day-to-day grind, the fundamentals part of it."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

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