Pierre much better than his critics think

Q. You’ve seen Juan Pierre with both the Marlins and the Cubs. The Cubs are getting a good look at him this weekend. He’s off to a good start with the Phillies. Juan has his detractors, but what do you like about him?

A. I go back to 2003 with JP, and he’s always been one of my favorite people in the game.

We tend to focus on what he can’t do — he doesn’t hit for power, doesn’t walk, has a weak throwing arm — but one thing you can never take away from him is his World Series ring with Florida.

He hit .333 in the Series that year with a .481 OBP and set the tone with a leadoff bunt single to start Game 1.

He’s the hardest-working, big-league player I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something), never makes excuses and sets a great example for his teammates every day.

Plus, he’s one of the best basestealers I’ve ever seen.

Q. The Reds got off to a slow start but look like they might be putting things together. Do you like Sean Marshall as the closer?

A. I do like Sean there. He was by far their best choice when Ryan Madson was lost for the season.

Actually, their bullpen has some depth, so if the Reds had one area in which they could withstand a big injury, it was the pen.

There’s some pressure on this club to win and win consistently, as shown by the multiyear contracts they’ve been handing out. Big year for Dusty Baker, who’s in the final year of his contract.

Q. How deeply do you have to dig with Bob Brenly if a game gets out of hand either way?

A. First off, it’s always easier when the Cubs are leading. The vibe is more festive, particularly if it’s a home game.

Ultimately, it’s our job to keep the broadcast (or “show” as they say in the TV biz) entertaining, regardless of the score or result.

It’s funny, as broadcasters we bring a treasure trove of research into each game on everything from the recent statistical trends for each club (i.e., one team might be struggling to score runs while the other is having bullpen issues) to an interesting back story on one of the starting pitchers.

But sometimes those nuggets become irrelevant, even in the first inning.

I don’t know how many times the starting pitcher gets knocked out of the game before I’ve even had a chance to tell the audience where he’s from! So, you adjust as the game dictates.

And Bob makes my job easy. He’s always willing to go down whatever road I take him.

Perfect example comes from an April broadcast last year. In about the third inning, I asked him if he had plans to watch the royal wedding the following morning.

He huffed and said, “I’d rather watch a bullpen session. That’s something I have an interest in.”

So, after a laugh or two, I dropped it. Not a word was said again (on or off the air) until the following game when, again in about the third inning, I followed up: “Hey, Bob, did you get up early to catch the wedding?”

And without missing a beat, he cheerily declared, “No, Len, I didn’t catch it. BUT, I did find some interesting information on the wedding cake.”

He then proceeded to rattle off several interesting things about the cake — how expensive it was, where the flour was imported from, etc. That’s how great a partner and broadcaster he is — he KNEW I was going to go back to that story because it was a funny diversion from the night before.

Those are the best moments because they’re totally organic. And especially when the game gets out of hand, we really need those.

ŸLen Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter;[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;[URL] each week via our daily newsletter.[/URL]

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