Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)


Pena helping Rays with sharp eye, mind

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP James Shields said of 1B Carlos Pena, "Once (he) gets hot, I think the whole lineup gets hot."

The Rays' current series with the Royals bears that out.

Pena went 3-for-5 with two RBIs Sunday, with his hits ranging from line drives to surprises. Before he delivered a two-run double in the third, Pena shocked the Royals' shifted defense in the second by dropping a perfect bunt down the third-base line. According to, it was just the fifth bunt single in Pena's career, which spans 721 games. The last time he did it was Sept. 19, 2007, vs. the Angels.

"I liked it," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought it was a great play."

But what has impressed Maddon the most in Pena's recent at-bats is the left-handed slugger's patience, how he takes "borderline pitches that are called balls."

"You can see that their foot is down in time, they've got good balance," Maddon said of hitters with that approach. "And they're not jumpy all over the place. … Last year at the end of the season, when (Pena) really climbed his batting average up to .282, that's what he looked like."

Pena has seven RBIs in the series, and the Rays are averaging 6.3 runs throughout the six-game homestand.

GARZA'S GOT IT: Maddon believes today's starter, RHP Matt Garza, has turned a corner, saying his ability to control his emotions is helping him control his pitches. Since his early exit in Texas on June 8, when he had a heated exchange with C Dioner Navarro, Garza is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA. Garza has thrown 68 percent of his pitches for strikes in his past three starts and has walked nine in his past seven starts after walking 20 in his first eight.

"He has a more calm demeanor; he's not out there all tensed up, fired up all the time, spitting fire, whatever," Maddon said. "He's gotten control of his emotions, and with that you're seeing a real pounding of the strike zone, with velocity and angle."

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Al Reyes, on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, said he's slated to start a rehab assignment for Class A Vero Beach, pitching Tuesday, Thursday then on back-to-back days Sunday and Monday. … Maddon said that with closer Troy Percival (left hamstring strain) having a similar injury to the one that put him on the DL earlier this season, the club likely will be more cautious in when they'll bring him back. He didn't want to give a specific timetable. … Maddon said OF Rocco Baldelli likely will work out in St. Petersburg during the team's upcoming road trip; no minor-league assignments have been scheduled.

WIZARD IN TOWN: Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and SS Ben Zobrist was starstruck. Zobrist attended lots of Cardinals games, growing up about 2½ hours away in Eureka, Ill., and Smith was his favorite player. Zobrist, who said he owned the same model glove Smith wore with the Cards, chatted briefly with the former shortstop in the clubhouse. Smith was on hand with Aflac to honor Florida high school standouts picked for a national all-star game (including Plant's Mychal Givens). "It was awesome," Zobrist said of meeting Smith. "He was really cool about it."

MISCELLANY: Desmond Jennings, one of the Rays' top outfield prospects, is slated to have left shoulder surgery Wednesday in St. Petersburg. … LHP David Price went to 3-0, 1.42 at Double-A Montgomery in a 3-1 win over West Tenn. The top overall pick in 2007 pitched seven innings, striking out six and allowing one run, four hits and a walk. … In a unique promotion, Hess Express is giving $5 gas cards to all fans in attendance for the July 18 game against the Blue Jays. … 2B Akinori Iwamura extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Pena helping Rays with sharp eye, mind 07/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 6:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Volkov hopes to prove his surprise selection right


    RW Alexander Volkov was not a particularly talked-about player in the lead up to the NHL entry draft.

    Alexander Volkov’s KHL contract expired in the lead-up to the draft, which gives him the freedom to begin playing in North America right away.
  2. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing


    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Did a Cubs player give Trump the middle finger during a White House visit?


    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on …

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on social media.
The photo, taken by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, purportedly shows outfielder Albert Almora Jr. flipping a bird while standing just feet from Trump as the other players were gathered around his desk. [Gordon Wittenmyer via Twitter]
  4. Jeff Vinik contributing $6 million to fund Lightning's practice facility upgrade


    With free agency beginning Saturday, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will have another selling point in the courting process.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  5. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB


    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]