Carlos Pena: A thinking man's hitter

Carlos Pena: A thinking man's hitter

Carlos Pena: A thinking man's hitter
ANAHEIM -- Carlos Pena has struggled offensively this season. The Rays first baseman carried a .193 batting average into Sunday's game against the Angels.

Pena is a thinker and, sometimes, he believes that thinking leads to over analyzing things.

"I think the ability to just accept who you are, who I am as a hitter [is something he has to do]," Pena said. "I know what I bring to the table. I'm a selective hitter, I make pitchers work, I know I play good defense, I know I get on base, I walk, I hit for power, I drive in runs. I will strike out. I have the shift working against me. The chances are against me of hitting .350.

"So accepting that and being OK with that is incredibly important, because the moment you try to combat it or fight against it or resist, it persists. It's like the old saying: What you resist persists."

Pena said his case is the perfect example of what he is trying to resist persisting.

"So instead of me worrying too much, I'm trying to put it on the back burner and forgetting about it, knowing that at the end of the year my numbers are going to be fine," Pena said. "Most important, I want to make sure that I show up for my team today. My skills are here. My eyes are here, my hands are here, my power's here. My defense is here. My attitude is here. And I want to make sure I bring it all clean, sharp, and crisp today to see if we can win this ballgame."

Rays manager Joe Maddon pointed out that Pena, despite hitting for a low average, still draws a lot of walks and his on-base percentage is .323.

"His on-base percentage based on his batting average is outstanding," Maddon said. "... Any time a hitter exceeds his batting average by more than 100 points, that's pretty good work. And again, I don't want him to be concerned about his batting average.

"I still believe if he were to get a little more finely tuned with the strike zone, that's going to be his best way to start getting better pitches to really drive, because people are still challenging him on the periphery and not really coming after him."

Hitting against a shifted infield has worked against left-handed-swinging Pena greatly over the past several years, which Maddon believes is a difficult thing for a hitter to experience.

"When you're hitting balls hard into the shift and you're out, what does that do to you psychologically?" Maddon said. "That wears you down a little bit. When you were 16 or 17 that was a hit and now it's an out. That's different, man. It's not easy to just turn the field around at a certain juncture in life. It's defensive sophistication that has caught up to him a little bit."