WBC leaves Peña rusty
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
SARASOTA, Fla. - Wily Mo Peña is going to the World Baseball Classic semifinals with the Dominican Republic.
But that does not mean he'll be getting any at-bats.
Peña has played in two of the Dominican's six games and has just six at-bats in the WBC so far.
That's not good for a player who is still developing.
"It's out of our hands," Reds hitting coach Chris Chambliss said. "But it's not the ideal situation."
Peña, 24, had his development stunted in part by the structure of his contract. When he was 21, the Reds were forced to keep him in the big leagues or risk losing him. He has three full years in the majors but only 830 at-bats.
Peña got three at-bats before he left to join the Dominican Republic team on March 3. He'll end up missing at least 17 days of spring training.
Reds manager Jerry Narron couldn't say how much the inactivity will hurt Peña.
"I don't think it helps him, sitting and not playing," Narron said.
Peña will be back in time for the Reds' final 12 spring games.
"That's the good part," Chambliss said. "When he returns, we'll get him as many at-bats as we can. Hitters are able to get ready faster than pitchers."
Peña was penciled in as the Reds' starting left fielder. He has played that position less than the other outfield spots.
It no longer seems a given than Peña will play every day. Adam Dunn started in left field Thursday and Rich Aurilia played first base.
Aurilia and Scott Hatteberg give the Reds right- and left-handed options at first base when Dunn plays left.
So Peña's spring inactivity could cost him playing time, especially early in the season.
"We can't change it now," Chambliss said. "Obviously, it would be better if he was playing."