When Manny Ramirez was suspended on May 7 for violating MLB's joint drug agreement, everyone agreed that it could be devastating for the Dodgers, who had to replace him in the lineup with Juan Pierre (below). It was Pierre's limp bat that had compelled L.A. to trade for Ramirez last summer, relegating Pierre and his $9 million-a-year salary to the bench. A month in, though, Pierre has been a revelation. By being more disciplined at the plate—he's swinging at 35% fewer pitches out of the strike zone—and hitting the ball in the air (28.5% of his ABs, his highest career rate), Pierre has done his best work since 2004. Through Sunday he had hit .362 with a .428 OBP since May 7. The Dodgers, 20--7 with Ramirez, were 18--12 without him and had stretched their lead in the NL West to nine games.
RON CHENOY-US PRESSWIRE (PIERRE)