Three weeks after secret surgery to repair two tears in his lower abdominal muscle, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said Thursday he "feels great," has resumed hitting and has no concerns — "zero percent" — that his regular-season performance will be impacted.
Pena had the surgery Jan. 8, repairing an injury he said had him playing in pain — at times "excruciating" — since August. The team waited until Thursday to make it public, saying it was "minor surgery" and "he will be ready to go for spring training."
Pena said he tried cortisone shots in late August and early October and extended rest after the season but was still in pain. The Rays sent him to see specialist Dr. William Myers in Philadelphia, and he recommended immediate surgery to repair two tears to alleviate the pain.
"It was a little bit worse than we thought," Pena said. "The left side was all off the bone and right side was halfway there."
Pena, 30, will skip playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic — "I'm heartbroken," he said — as a precaution but said he should be fine for spring training, though he expects the Rays will hold him back. With his matching scars about 5 inches below his belly button nearly healed, he hit for the first time Wednesday and plans to resume his normal prespring workouts, and he hopes to put back on some muscle he lost after surgery.
"I'm recovering well," he said. "I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to go all out in spring training except that they'll be cautious with me."
• Third baseman Evan Longoria said he will "prepare like" he will be part of the U.S. team's final 28-man Classic roster, which is expected to include veterans Chipper Jones and David Wright. "If they call me, I'm going to be ready to go," Longoria said.
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