There was a lot of positive energy last off season when the Rays and 1B Carlos Pena agreed to a 1-yr. contract that reunited him with the team he spent 4 seasons with from 2007-2010.
That buzz was escalated this weekend when Pena delivered the power the Rays desperately needed during their opening series sweep against the Yankees.
Pena batted .500 with 3 extra base hits and 7 RBI’s during his first series. He also hit 2 HR’s and came a fan interference away from a possible 3rd.
“Your heart starts racing in that moment and you try to control yourself as much as possible. I tried to slow myself down and breathe and take it one pitch at a time, as easy as you can possibly make it. Instead of building the situation up you try to bring it down.” -Carlos Pena.
Pena hit a huge grand slam in the 1st inning of the opening day win vs. the Yankees and hit the game winning sacrifice fly to win that same game.
Pena finished 3 for 5 with five RBIs in his return to the Rays after a year with the Chicago Cubs. All that after a spring in which he hit .107 and struggled so much that manager Joe Maddon initially penciled him into the No. 7 spot in the batting order for the opener.
Not all was completely rosey during the series. Pena did strikeout 5 times in the three games in the sweep of the Yankees, but if he provides the power, the Rays will live with the strikeouts.
The Rays will need Pena’s power to stay consistent all season. He’s notorious for being a streaky hitter and will have peaks and valleys to his season, but if the Rays can get him to hit around .250-.260, there’s no telling where they could end up in the standing. One thing is for sure, Pena will be a huge part of the Rays success this season.