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Pierre draws start in center for Dodgers

Pierre draws start in center for Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES -- A day after receiving arguably the loudest ovation from the fans at Dodger Stadium during a pinch-hit at-bat in the seventh inning, Juan Pierre was back in the starting lineup Friday.

But he wasn't back at left field, the position where he started all 50 games during Manny Ramirez's suspension for violating the Major League Baseball drug policy.

For the first time since May 1, Pierre opened a game in center field.

The start also marked Pierre's second since Ramirez rejoined the Dodgers' lineup on July 3. He also started at left field on July 5 against the San Diego Padres. In that game, Pierre went 4-for-7.

In the days leading up to Ramirez's return to the club, manager Joe Torre said the plan was find a way to give Pierre one or two starts a week.

Center fielder Matt Kemp, though, said he hasn't been made aware of a definitive plan for when he'll get days off now that the Dodgers have four capable outfielders at their disposal.

One factor that Torre said he'll consider when determining who starts and who sits is pitching matchups.

For example, Pierre entered Friday's game with a .353 batting average in 34 career at-bats against Houston starter Roy Oswalt. Kemp is hitless with two strikeouts against Oswalt in four career at-bats.

"Today is one of those days when we'll get him a day," Torre said before the game. "He's had some pretty good numbers with a fair number of at-bats against Oswalt."

But Friday's start doesn't set a precedent that Pierre will only play when the Dodgers face a starter against whom Pierre has enjoyed success.

"It could be a combination of things," Torre said when asked what will influence the outfield rotation. "If somebody's struggling or [Pierre] has numbers that stand out ... and today I came to the ballpark and happened to look at the numbers and it jumped out at me."

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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