Simplifying approach may be key for Pena

Simplifying approach may be key for Pena

Simplifying approach may be key for Pena
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will be giving away a Carlos Pena home run figurine prior to Wednesday night's 7:10 ET game against the Yankees, and the slugger wouldn't mind striking that pose over the next couple of days.

The 34-year-old Pena has struggled this year. He entered Tuesday with a .191 average and 17 homers but is coming off a 2-for-3 game in his last start, which came on Sunday against Toronto. He was back in the lineup on Tuesday against New York.

Pena, who entered Tuesday with 162 strikeouts -- the second most in the Majors -- recognizes that the numbers may not necessarily represent the production he was hoping to provide, but he is still confident he has what it takes to turn things around.

"I feel good about it," Pena said. "It's going to be a huge test of character. It's going to be a time of setting pride aside. All these clichés we use all the time -- we just want to stay in the present. The past is gone; you can't do anything about it."

But it's the past where Pena might find the key to helping the Rays down the stretch. He said he's been working with hitting coach Derek Shelton and looking at old film, trying to get back to the basics that made him successful.

In particular, Pena wouldn't mind reverting to the form he showed in 2008, when he hit .247 with 31 homers and helped Tampa Bay win the American League East title.

"As we go along in this career, we make so many adjustments; we try so many different things," Pena said. "After a couple years have gone by, you might be doing something totally different than you were a few years ago, just because you adjust on a daily basis. We're trying to get back to what's natural for me, what's easiest for me."