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Guillen defends Pierre

CHICAGO – The routine is familiar.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is questioned almost daily about much maligned Juan Pierre, and every time he vigorously defends the outfielder against the fans and news media who call for his starting job.

For once, Guillen semi-restrained himself when he addressed the critics Saturday. Guillen specifically referenced Tuesday’s 14-inning loss to the Nationals, pointing out that although Pierre went 0 for 6, Brent Lillibridge struck out with the bases loaded, and the Sox stranded four runners on base in the first two innings.

And yet Pierre received most of the blame from people outside of the organization.

“I’m not protecting anyone,” Guillen said. “Why does it have to be Juan? If they want [Dayan] Viciedo here, bring him up. I’ll play him.

“Now, I’ll make it clear, they have to make a trade or they have to make a decision about sending someone down. I cannot play with a 26-man roster.”

Guillen reiterated that as long as Pierre is on the team, he’ll play even if he struggles to get on and steal bases.

“I don’t know why people just talk about him every day,” Guillen said. “We got a lot of worse things here than JP, and nobody says anything about it.

“I play JP because I think that’s the best guy to help us to win.”

In 74 games this season, all as the Sox’s leadoff hitter, Pierre is batting .248 with a .310 on-base percentage. He has stolen 10 bases but has been caught nine times, third most in the majors. He was not in the lineup Saturday.

Sox quick hit: The Sox are 27-18 since May 7, the second-best mark in the AL behind the Red Sox (30-13). … Carlos Quentin was back in the lineup after missing Friday’s game for personal reasons. He went 0 for 3 with an RBI.

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