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Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Peña takes optimistic viewpoint

NEW YORK — Sometimes, it truly can be a matter of perspective.

You can look at 1B Carlos Peña's .210 batting average after a season-high four hits Saturday and see a problem. But Peña can look at how far he has come and see progress, and promise.

After a 34-game stretch from April 30-June 5 in which he hit .114 with three homers and 11 RBIs, Peña has been relatively sizzling over the next 34 at .275 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs.

"Sometimes, when you look at the overall picture, it makes it a little more difficult," Peña said. "I have to be mentally tough to be able to look at it the right way and understand that I had … a bad May, and that's the end of that. Otherwise, I think that I've been able to help out the ball club in the last month and a half."

Manager Joe Maddon, who has preached patience when questioned about returning Peña to the cleanup slot, also has been pleased.

"Obviously," he said, "that's more of what we think he will look like on a consistent basis."

Peña's homer was his 18th as a Ray against the Yankees, most of any major-leaguer since 2007. And he had his first four-hit game since May 2007.

WET 'N' WILD: INF Sean Rodriguez rejoined the team, having spent the previous two days dealing with the aftermath of a flood at his Redington Beach rental condo.

Rodriguez was minutes from leaving for Thursday's 1 p.m. Tropicana Field workout and ensuing flight to New York when water started spewing from a faulty fire alarm sprinkler in the bedroom of his fourth-floor unit.

It took an hour, and some assistance from firefighters, to get it to stop, and it took Rodriguez most of the rest of Thursday to sort out the soggy mess with the rugs needing to be removed and several of his personal electronic items ruined. Then there was a mix-up at the airport Friday over his flight, and he didn't get to New York until the game was ending.

OLD TIME GUYS: Maddon was disappointed to hear Yogi Berra missed the Yankees' old-timers day festivities after falling at his home Friday. Maddon hoped to get a photo taken with Berra and a book signed.

Many other past Yankees greats, including Reggie Jackson, were there and paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday.

"There are players and owners in history that are tied together in the sport, and I'm proud to be tied to him," Jackson said. "That will never change."

ZIM IN FOCUS: Senior adviser Don Zimmer is the subject of an MLB Network documentary called Don Zimmer: I've Seen It All that debuts at 10 tonight.

DUTY CALLS: Top Rays officials and several players, likely including LHP David Price, RHP James Shields and Rodriguez, will appear with first lady Michelle Obama at Baltimore's Camden Yards on Tuesday morning to announce a joint White House/MLB/players union initiative to combat childhood obesity. Rays and Orioles players also will conduct a youth clinic.

BALK THIS WAY: Maddon agreed with B.J. Upton that reliever Mariano Rivera balked during Friday's ninth-inning pickoff and said the ambiguity in defining what is and isn't allowed, specifically in terms of deceiving the runner, is a growing concern.

"We have to do a better job of that, making it more uniform, especially to a team like us that runs a lot," Maddon said, noting he also believes balks have been unfairly called against his pitchers.

MISCELLANY: LF Carl Crawford's three-strikeout game was his first since June 29, 2008, at Pittsburgh and only his 15th overall. … The Rays are 6-7 at new Yankee Stadium after going 26-65 at the old one. … Tenth-round draft pick OF Deshun Dixon signed.

Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Peña takes optimistic viewpoint 07/17/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 18, 2010 11:09am]
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