ST. LOUIS — Prince Fielder was the home run king at Monday's derby, but Rays first baseman Carlos Peña had the best time.
"Wow, what an experience," Peña said. "I did not think this was going to be so much fun. That was incredible. I had the time of my life."
Peña hatched a plan to have Rays batting practice pitcher Scott McNulty work him outside so he could hit the ball to left-center, as he normally does in batting practice.
It worked well enough that he hit five in the first round, then advanced to a "swing-off" with Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols for the final spot in the second round, but he hit only one more as Pujols advanced.
"We were contemplating doing it the traditional way and pull everything to rightfield, but after a couple swings in batting practice, we said, 'Okay, scratch that, that's not what we're used to doing. Let's just drive the ball the other way and the adrenaline will get it out there,' " Peña said.
"I was very confident that I had the power to do that. After the first one, I'm like, 'Okay, I got this.' Now it was all about making the right kind of contact, which proved to be extremely difficult. It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be."
Fielder beat Texas' Nelson Cruz in the final; Pujols and Ryan Howard were in the second round.
"I'm glad I got to do that," Peña said.