VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Juan Pierre reported to camp this morning, sounding unsure how he fit into the Dodgers' plans after his team signed 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones to play the center-field position he occupied last season.
"At the end of the day, hopefully, they could see that I could benefit the team," Pierre said. "And, if not, it's one of those situations where they might get rid of me or something." Pierre has a no-trade provision, limited to five teams, in the five-year, $44-million contract he signed a little more than a year ago. But Pierre strongly hinted that he would be willing to waive the clause if the Dodgers wanted to move him, saying, "I don't want to be where I'm not wanted."
General Manager Ned Colletti said that wasn't the case, calling Pierre "a strong asset" and "a championship-type player."
"I think the criticism of him was wrong," Colletti said.
Pierre had 196 hits and 64 steals last season, something Colletti said the Dodgers were unable to fully take advantage of because the middle of their lineup wasn't constantly producing. The addition of Jones' power could change that, he said.
Recounting the conversation he had with Manager Joe Torre shortly after the Dodgers signed Jones, Pierre said, "He said that with Andruw coming in, it'd be more than likely that I'd probably have to move to left."
Competing with Andre Ethier for playing time isn't an issue, he said. Ethier also is battling for playing time in right field with Matt Kemp.
"That's the good thing with me," Pierre said. "I approach spring training every year like I'm competing for a job, so my mentality won't be any different."
Asked if he would prefer to be traded if he didn't win a starting job, he replied, "I haven't even thought of it that far down the line. I'll cross that bridge when I get there."
Pierre admitted that he was bothered when he heard comments that the Dodgers "finally got a center fielder" by acquiring Jones.
"That kind of hurt a little bit because it's like I wasn't out there in center field," he said.
While he acknowledged that his on-base percentage of .331 last season was something he had to improve upon, Pierre said, "I know my game, I'm going to go out there and play it. Some people value it and some people don't. I'm quite sure there are some people in L.A. who don't like my game and you have some people who do like it. I know my game's not pretty. I know it's not going to be in the box scores, I'm not going to be the guy all over 'SportsCenter.' Some people value it and some people don't. Hopefully, the people that make the decisions do."
Don Mattingly, who stepped down as the hitting coach last month because of an ongoing divorce, arrived in camp in his new position as special assignment coach. He said he would remain in Dodgertown until part of the team leaves for China on March 11 to play exhibition games against the San Diego Padres.
Mattingly said he hoped to be part of the Dodgers' coaching staff next season, but added, "I don't want to make any decisions right now." He said his main priority was to remain in Indiana with his 16-year-old son, Jordon, in this time of transition.
The former New York Yankees first baseman's original contract with the Dodgers, which included two guaranteed years and an option for a third, was torn up and replaced with a one-year deal. But Mattingly said he viewed his commitment to the Dodgers as something long-term.
"They showed me a lot of respect," he said. "I really would like to return that if they want me."
Of the New York Yankees' managerial position, for which he was a finalist this winter, he said, "I'm really grateful I didn't get it. You talk about unanswered prayers."
Tom Lasorda will manage the Dodgers when they play what could be their final game in Vero Beach, Fla.
When Torre leaves for China with the split squad that will play the San Diego Padres in Beijing, he will hand over the remaining players to Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988. The players left in Florida will play under Lasorda for eight games.
If the Dodgers move their spring training base to Glendale, Ariz., next year as expected, their last home game in Vero Beach will be against the Houston Astros on March 17.