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Live from Port Charlotte: Pena in the house




Pena takes his first swings since rejoinng Rays.


The morning started with bright smiles in the Rays clubhouse as Carlos Pena walked in the door, greeted with hugs and smiles.

"It feels like home,'' Pena said.

Pena planned to join the other early reporting position players for a workout, with Ben Zobrist the only regular who has not been in yet. The first full squad workout is Sunday.

Pena said he has barely stopped smiling since agreeing to a one-year, $7.25-million deal on Jan. 24 to rejoin the Rays. "I'm just really happy and grateful that the opportunity came about and I'm here and it has materialized,'' Pena said. "At first it was just a possibility and now it's reality and I'm part of this ballclub once again.''

Pena said he was particularly heartened by the response from fans he has run into during trips back to St. Petersburg as how much they say his return has meant to them.

"That was the most overwhelming thing of all,'' he said, "and I just kind of sit quiet and absorb it and say, Wow, this has flattered me. Just noticing how many people are happy for me to be back on this team, it's like wow. It just fuels me, and I want to make sure I honor that.''

Pena took about a $3-million pay cut to come back (he made $10-million last year with the Cubs), but said: "You can't put a dollar amount on this, a value. This is great.''

Pena said the family matter that forced him to miss Saturday's FanFest involved his mother-in-law, who had a heart attack at home in the Dominican Republic. Pena said she is "doing well" now and he returned to the U.S. on Tuesday.


[Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 12:40am]


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