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First baseman Carlos Pena wins first Gold Glove for Rays franchise

Carlos Pena, tossing to first for a putout, said of his teammates, “We have a very good defensive ballclub, and we work in synergy.”

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Carlos Pena, tossing to first for a putout, said of his teammates, “We have a very good defensive ballclub, and we work in synergy.”

Carlos Pena sees himself as the figurehead for a Rays defense that — like the team itself — was tremendously improved this season.

The American League champions had several players who could have won Gold Glove awards, he said. That didn't temper the 30-year-old first baseman's excitement when he was informed by Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman that he had been named the top defensive player at his position in the AL by managers and coaches.

"I called everybody. My wife was extremely excited. We got excited when Andrew was on the phone, and we were celebrating and screaming," Pena said.

Pena, whose presence has bolstered the Rays offense and defense since his arrival in 2007, committed just two errors this season — down from eight last year — and had a .998 fielding percentage in 1,099 chances. Nimble in his ability to snap bouncing throws out of the dirt, he became the first Ray to win the award.

Pena, the 2007 comeback player of the year, hit 31 homers and drove in 102 runs this season but maintained a high level of defensive play while struggling offensively, especially in the first half.

"He has received a lot of attention for his bat the past couple of years, so it is great to see him recognized for his defense as well," Friedman said.

Pena said the quality of the Rays infield, with third baseman Evan Longoria, shortstop Jason Bartlett and second baseman Akinori Iwamura, was crucial to his individual recognition.

"These guys get rid of the ball quicker," he said. "I don't have to worry about this runner coming down the line. I can relax a little bit more and make sure I take a nice pick on a bad throw. …In fact, I think we all are Gold Glovers."

Peavy likely to move: Jake Peavy, whose $63-million contract runs through 2012, probably will be traded by the Padres before the winter meetings next month, general manager Kevin Towers said. "The train's kind of left the station," said Towers, though the right-hander has a no-trade clause. Peavy, 27, has an initial list of teams he told San Diego to concentrate on that includes the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals.

Tiebreaker change? General managers plan to recommend at the winter meetings that sites for division and wild-card tiebreakers be decided by head-to-head records rather than a coin flip.

Times wires contributed to this report.

>>FAST FACTS

AL Gold Gloves

PMike Mussina, Yankees

CJoe Mauer, Twins

1BCarlos Pena, Rays

2BDustin Pedroia, Red Sox

3BAdrian Beltre, Mariners

SSMichael Young,
Rangers

OFTorii Hunter, Angels

Grady Sizemore,
Indians

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

First baseman Carlos Pena wins first Gold Glove for Rays franchise 11/06/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 8:36pm]
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