Pierre close to passing DiMaggio on all-time hits list

Pierre close to passing DiMaggio on all-time hits list

Pierre close to passing DiMaggio on all-time hits list

ATLANTA -- When Juan Pierre first stepped onto a big league field, never did he imagine he would be in position to eventually surpass the great Joe DiMaggio in a key statistical category.

But the Marlins' veteran outfielder indeed is primed to pass not just Joltin' Joe, but another Hall of Famer as well -- Willie McCovey -- on the all-time hits list.

Pierre's pinch-hit double on Friday night against the Braves at Turner Field was career hit No. 2,209 for the veteran, who ranks 178th overall.

With one more hit, Pierre will match Willie Randolph (2,210) for 177th. McCovey sits in 176th place (2,211), followed by Joe Kuhel (2,212). Sitting in the No. 174 spot is DiMaggio, with 2,214 hits.

So Pierre is five shy of matching the Yankee Clipper.

"You think of Joe DiMaggio, Willie McCovey," Pierre said, "I feel my name should be nowhere close to them. I guess it is pretty cool, but I wasn't aware of it until like a week ago. It's pretty cool."

Pierre broke into the league in 2000 with the Rockies, and he's now in his second stint with the Marlins. He set the single-season hits mark with 221 in 2004.

A speedster with little power, Pierre's game has always been to single or bunt his way on base. Because he isn't a home-run threat, pitchers regularly go right after him, rather than risk issuing a walk.

"In order for me to get on base, I'd have to get hits," Pierre said. "That's what I had to do in my career. Then, batting leadoff, it gives you a lot of opportunities to get hits or make outs. It was one or the other."

Regarded as a throwback player because of his tremendous work ethic, Pierre is proud to be in elite company.

Consider, Pierre ranks 80th in MLB history among strictly left-handed hitters. McCovey is at 79.

"That stuff is staggering to me," Pierre said. "I never set out to play the game for that. Literally, I was happy to be in the big leagues. I just go out there and play. To be 80th, I can't comprehend that.

"I bet if you went around baseball circles, they'd say, 'No way Juan Pierre is up there on that list.' I just go out there and play hard. If you play long enough, I guess the numbers will be there."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter