PDA

View Full Version : Pena dedicated to honing his skills (2/27)



TeamBoone
02-27-2006, 07:25 PM
02/27/2006 3:39 PM ET
Pena dedicated to honing his skills
Outfielder hoping to improve at the plate, in the field
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wily Mo Pena may have finally made the breakthrough into the Reds' everyday lineup as their left fielder.
But will Pena finally have the breakout season, too?

He's working on it.

"It's the opportunity I've been waiting for," Pena said. "I just have to do my job in Spring Training the best I can and work hard and everything. Having everyday at-bats will be nice."

Seeing Pena make the most of those at-bats and reaching the potential many have expected, would be even nicer for the Reds.

"The big thing is focus and being mentally locked in every time you go up there," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "The fewer at-bats [he] just gives away ... the easier it is to become a good hitter."

Regular spots in the outfield opened up for Pena and right fielder Austin Kearns this winter, when the Reds dealt first baseman Sean Casey to the Pirates. Adam Dunn was subsequently shifted from left field to first base. Since first baseman Scott Hatteberg signed earlier this month, there has been speculation that Pena or Kearns could be dealt and Dunn moved back to left field before the season opens. Without directly commenting on the situation, general manager Wayne Krivsky indicated no deals were imminent.

Still just 24 years old, Pena is entering his fifth big league season. The Dominican native was originally signed to a Major League contract as a 17-year-old by the Yankees in 1999. He came to Cincinnati in the 2001 Drew Henson trade. After he debuted as a September callup in 2002, he was out of Minor League options by 2003 and was kept on the Reds' big league roster even though he wasn't ready for the big leagues.

Since then, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Pena has made observers, "Ooh and ah," with his imposing raw power and some tape-measure home runs. He has made those same people moan and groan, however, with undisciplined plate appearances and way too many strikeouts. He batted .218 in 80 games during his first full season.

Last season, while batting .254 with 19 homers and 51 RBIs in 99 games, Pena struck out 116 times while walking just 20. He belted 26 homers in 2004 but struck out 108 times and walked 22. His career on-base percentage is a low .306.

In the past, some in the organization had taken to comparing Pena to a young Sammy Sosa, who also had brute power but a high amount of strikeouts. Narron and hitting coach Chris Chambliss would prefer to see him emulate another Dominican superstar.

Albert Pujols of the Cardinals.

Pujols is a career .330 hitter and has collected over 40 homers the past three seasons. He also draws many more walks than he has strikeouts. Late last season, Chambliss sat Pena down and had him view game tapes of the All-Star hitter's approach.

"The main reason I showed him that wasn't even about copying Albert or anything," Chambliss said. "It was more the balance part of it. Albert has great balance. His body is not jumping and that means his head is not jumping. When your head is not jumping, you see the ball better."

The hope is that Pena will make better choices and lay off more pitches out of the strike zone. It should translate to more hits, not just more home runs.

"I want to get my average up and everything," Pena said. "I want to be more selective at home plate and more confident."

Chambliss didn't expect Pena to completely eradicate his high-strikeout totals.

"But if he's able to consistently wait on the ball and see it a little longer and have a shorter stroke to the ball, the strikeouts can be cut down without losing his great power," Chambliss said.

The transformation of Pena into an everyday player will also require a commitment to defense. The outfielder's poor fielding skills have been often maligned.

"I think it'll definitely help him to be in one spot and not bouncing around," Narron said. "He'll come to our ballpark every day, he'll know it out there and see the ball come off the bat."

Narron says he has seen Pena's dedication and desire to improve in the field.

"I think he's willing to work," Narron said. "I think anybody that says he's not willing to work hasn't been around him enough. I'm sure at times he would get frustrated and wonder, 'What am I working for?' It's not that he's a lazy guy."

Will all of these efforts yield a more complete ballplayer?

Again, Pena is working on it.

"I just want to do the best I can for me and the team," Pena said. "I work hard all the time. If somebody says something, I don't know why. I do the best I can."

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060227&content_id=1324760&vkey=spt2006news&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

BCubb2003
02-27-2006, 07:36 PM
"The fewer at-bats [he] just gives away ... the easier it is to become a good hitter."


Somebody should make sure the manager knows this...

bottom_feeder
02-27-2006, 09:25 PM
I'm really impressed with Pena. He's probably the hardest working player we've had in a long time. I'm expecting him to really respond to having a job this year.

Redsland
02-27-2006, 09:57 PM
Wait...I thought Paul Wilson was the hardest working player we've had in a long time. :confused:

TOBTTReds
02-27-2006, 10:13 PM
I like the approach, but I'm still in the "I'll believe it when I see it" bandwagon.

Chip R
02-28-2006, 12:15 AM
Wait...I thought Paul Wilson was the hardest working player we've had in a long time. :confused:

And I thought it was Eric Milton. :confused:

GridironGrace
02-28-2006, 02:47 AM
I've been high on Pena since the start of last season. he's really one of my if not The favorite player of mine on the reds.. go back and look at my posts defending him if u think im jumping the bandwagon lol.

Man if this kid works as hard as lopez did last season you could see alot happening offensively.

I mean Lopez worked his butt off last season and there were articles about that too... now Pena??? good lord fear our lineup if pena has the same season Lopez did last year and Lopez also improves lol.

I tell ya what i wanna see most outta all this young talent we have.. Pena,Kearns,Dunn,Lopez,Edwin.

Those 5 Guys, mainly the 4 besides Dunn but he needs to hear this too.

If im Narron, what i wanna see most outta those 5 is PATIANCE. I dont know how many pop outs and grounders those guys cut loose of last season on either the 1st 2nd or 3rd pitch of an AB, and be like a 1-1 count or something.

Patiance guys... Lets get some good looks, and if nothing else make the pitcher go far enough into the AB that you'll know next time what to look for a lil more closly, or set up for the next batter to see what he's gonna get thrown.

Pataince is the key for these young guys. Lopez showed it last season and they all need to do it this year.

I wanna see long AB's and battles. Those are what makes you succesful later into a season, REPS.

redsmetz
02-28-2006, 06:00 AM
In his notes, the Dayton Daily News' Hal McCoy adds this tidbit

It isn't that the Reds feel Wily Mo Pena can be another Albert Pujols, although that would be a wonderful thing. They'd just like him to take the same approach at the plate as the St. Louis Cardinals megastar.

"Chris Chambliss (hitting coach) showed Wily Mo some tapes of Pujols last year," said Narron. "He wanted him to watch Pujols' approach. Wily Mo had some success after that. The thing for Wily is not to give away at-bats. Guys like Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, and now Barry Bonds, never give away at-bats."

A patient Wily Mo would be something to behold.

TeamBoone
02-28-2006, 10:25 AM
Those 5 Guys, mainly the 4 besides Dunn but he needs to hear this too.

If im Narron, what i wanna see most outta those 5 is PATIANCE. I dont know how many pop outs and grounders those guys cut loose of last season on either the 1st 2nd or 3rd pitch of an AB, and be like a 1-1 count or something.

Adam Dunn is already very patient at the plate... almost to a fault. He has a very good eye.

GridironGrace
02-28-2006, 10:29 AM
Yea but being to patiant at the plate and "good" causing him to strike out a lil much :)

He's so tall and wants to let those low ones go a lil much for me..

All those K's lol, He'll be fine its the others i was really talking too.. would just like to see him wait for that low pitch he gets every AB and drive it the other way for a base hit, instead of watching it go by for a strikeout.

TeamBoone
02-28-2006, 10:40 AM
would just like to see him wait for that low pitch he gets every AB and drive it the other way for a base hit, instead of watching it go by for a strikeout.

You mean the ones at his ankles/shins that always get called strikes by umpires who don't seem to recognize where his strike zone is?

GridironGrace
02-28-2006, 10:50 AM
The ones at the knees yes. :)

KronoRed
02-28-2006, 12:58 PM
Adam Dunn is already very patient at the plate... almost to a fault. He has a very good eye.
Lets not forget what happend in 03 when he was told to swing more

remdog
02-28-2006, 02:10 PM
Lets not forget what happend in 03 when he was told to swing moreJust to correct Krono's misconception----Dunn wasn't told to 'swing more', it was suggested that he should swing at the pitches he can drive rather than take them. Dunn has even conceeded that he needs to do that.

Rem

KronoRed
02-28-2006, 02:14 PM
Well it was a complete failure, and to me it says we should let Dunn be Dunn.

westofyou
02-28-2006, 02:19 PM
would just like to see him wait for that low pitch he gets every AB and drive it the other way for a base hit, instead of watching it go by for a strikeout.

As Paul O'Neil said when the shift was put on Giambi.


Guys spend their whole careers honing their approach, it's unrealistic to expect them to take an approach that has made them a star and change it. It's not how they got to where they are, they got there with a conviction in their approach.

TeamBoone
02-28-2006, 05:40 PM
Just to correct Krono's misconception----Dunn wasn't told to 'swing more', it was suggested that he should swing at the pitches he can drive rather than take them. Dunn has even conceeded that he needs to do that.

OK, I'm confused. Why would he ever let a ball go by that he thinks he can drive? Did he actually have a habit of doing that?

It makes no sense to me.... unless you're talking a borderline pitch?

OnBaseMachine
02-28-2006, 06:31 PM
The ones at the knees yes. :)

The pitches TB was referring to are not at Dunn's knees. Dunn gets called out a lot on pitches that are at his shin or ankles. Umps seems to forget Dunn is 6'6, not 5'6. If MLB switched to questec...then you could instantly shave 15-20 strikeouts off Dunn's total, imo.

remdog
02-28-2006, 10:58 PM
OK, I'm confused. Why would he ever let a ball go by that he thinks he can drive? Did he actually have a habit of doing that?

It makes no sense to me.... unless you're talking a borderline pitch?

From today's article by McCoy:

He doesn't want to lose his control of the strike zone that gets him 100 walks a year, but he wants to do a better job of being aggressive on good pitches to hit indeed, a fine line.

"I need to be more aggressive early, not let myself get down in the count," he said. "I need to make good contact with my pitch, not foul it off or miss it. I did that too many times last year. When I get my pitch, don't miss it."

Rem

remdog
02-28-2006, 11:00 PM
The pitches TB was referring to are not at Dunn's knees. Dunn gets called out a lot on pitches that are at his shin or ankles. Umps seems to forget Dunn is 6'6, not 5'6. If MLB switched to questec...then you could instantly shave 15-20 strikeouts off Dunn's total, imo.

Or if he actually got his pant legs out of the dirt and up around his calf's. :devil:

Rem