When there are few things to talk about, the White Sox find things to talk about.
First, you had Kenny Williams preemptively ripping the prospect of a $30 million contract for Albert Pujols, going so far as to say that baseball might be better after a work stoppage. That's a thought that is saturated with irony, considering it's coming from the guy who has repeatedly moaned about White Sox attendance, and a work stoppage is what destroyed the White Sox's drawing power for a good 11 years.
Then, you had Alex Rios declaring the White Sox "the team to beat." That's not a statement that has worked well for the Sox in the past, but I don't think it matters. Ozzie Guillen has provided the Twins far more marketing slogans than bulletin board material, and being nice hasn't helped. And it's not like the Twins return the favor - hell, Jesse Crain and Mark Teahen recently discovered how much Justin Morneau loathes the White Sox - so any steps to reduce the cap-tipping and Gardenhire-fawning are fine by me.
While Rios is saying the Sox are ready to be champs, Mark Buehrle is answering questions about whether he'd exercise his no-trade protection. With Adam Wainwright lost for the year, the St. Louis Cardinals need a starter, and of course, Buehrle will be going to to the Cardinals as sure as Paul Konerko is a four-time Angel.
And underneath it all, Juan Pierre goes to work.
Chuck Garfien achieved the impossible, getting to the ballpark before Pierre to highlight his full morning workout. There's lot of good stuff in the video, including the kind of training Pierre uses to stay in 160-game shape, how he hits off a tee, and even a look at his three-year-old BP bat he calls "Old Faithful," which is as bald as Pierre at its sweet spot.
Pierre has been a sabermetric whipping boy, mostly because the Dodgers decided to give him a $45 million contract for that slugging percentage in a corner spot, and defended the decision by leaning on the dreaded intangibles. But the longer he's with the Sox, the more I realize why he got that contract, even if he hasn't earned it.
It's hard to make a baseball living the way Pierre does. Look at Scott Podsednik, or Jerry Owens, or Alejandro De Aza, and their hernias, groins, hamstrings and ankles - running all-out at all times is way more difficult than it seems throughout a full season.
(Let's also note that Pierre was hit by more pitches than Carlos Quentin last year, which could be construed as a shot across the bow if I wanted to be sensational about it. "You missed games for this?" Pierre might think as he jogs to first...)
You'll hear players talk about "staying within themselves," like Gordon Beckham when discussing his 2010 struggles. It's one thing for a guy like Beckham to do that, because he has a variety of skills. If his power's not there, he can draw a walk. If his average is down, he can compensate with extra-base hits. If he's not hitting at all, he's at least handling a middle infield position. There are lots of respites in a slump for a multi-talented guy.
Then you have Pierre, whose skill set is so narrow, and position so offensively demanding, that he has little to no recourse when he's off his game. We saw that in April, and that has to be mentally taxing. When the one weapon you haven't doesn't work, you tread awfully close to Einstein's definition of insanity (yes, Einstein may have never said it).
Pierre can only compensate with preparation, and trust that it will eventually pay off. There are those eye-rolling intangibles again, but let's face it - lesser players would have been out of the game a long time ago, and when it comes to tools, there's very little - if anything - separating Pierre from lesser players. Pierre only has one way he can stand out, and by all accounts, he makes the most of it.