PHOENIX – Wily Mo Pena has been the newest cult hero in Arizona as he has become a home run threat every time he seems to come to the plate.
For Pena, a player who has spent the bulk of his career in the Minor Leagues, he craves the opportunity to establish himself as a big-league hitter.
“I just want one team to give me 500 at-bats. That’s the only thing that I ask. Just one year. Just let me have them. If I get that, they’ll see the numbers. If I don’t do nothing, I can go away and say, ‘Thank you. Now I know I don’t deserve this.’ But I believe in myself, and if I got 500 at-bats, I could put up numbers,” Pena told Yahoo Sports.
He sees Jose Bautista and Jayson Werth, Nelson Cruz and Michael Morse, power hitters who blossomed in their late 20s when given full-time at-bats. He’s convinced his .363 batting average at Reno was more than a fluke. He’s sure his major league numbers this year without the home runs – 3 for 23 with no walks and 12 strikeouts – will improve and aren’t more of the same mediocrity.
Manager Kirk Gibson believes Pena has to continue to work on his game if he is to last on a Major League roster.
“It depends on how motivated he is to keep improving,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson says. “Realistically, you should learn something every day you’re in the big leagues or the game of baseball. You have to learn how to make adjustments to what people are trying to do to you. I know in Reno he’s been pretty good at it.”
Let’s hope Pena can figure out how to become serviceable in the field either in the outfield or at first base.
Otherwise, the rest of his career will be spent in the Minor Leagues unless he can convince an American League team to use him as a DH.