KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whatever is left in his tank at age 35, Carlos Pena is certainly anxious to expend it on behalf of the Royals.
“Oh, yes, I will give it all I can to help this team win and help this team get in the playoffs,” said Pena, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday after the Royals had signed him to a minor-league deal a week earlier.
With the Royals, Pena, who once hit 46 homers for Tampa in a season, will be expected to provide a pinch-hitting threat off the bench and be an occasional spot starter to rest a regular.
And actually, Pena already has helped one playoff chase — he played five games for the Storm Chasers, hit .333 with two homers and six RBIs, and helped Omaha make the post-season.
“I felt pretty good there,” Pena said. “It was actually a good time. They were making a run for the playoffs and I did everything I could to help out and we were able to accomplish that goal and had a lot of fun doing it.
“Now I want to do it again.”
Pena truly is just happy to be back with a chance to contribute somewhere after getting designated for assignment by Houston in late July and ultimately released 10 days after that.
Pena’s dream of resurrecting his career with the Astros after signing a one-year, $2.9 million deal ended in a thud. He hit just .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs before his release.
Pena has no hard feelings toward the Astros, though.
“I don’t think anything went wrong there,” he said. “It was just the position they were in — they had to make some decisions. When they called me in the office I had nothing but good things to say about the place. I was truly impressed with the organization.
“You know, I think it was more that they wanted to bring up some young guys. I understood perfectly. And I was actually very sad. I made a lot of good friends in Houston. I made some friends for life.”
Pena, if anything, is a realist. And by now he has learned to appreciate each stop along his baseball journey — the Royals will be his eighth organization.
By far, most of his success in the big leagues came during a four-year stint with Tampa from 2007 through 2010. He had 46-homer and 39-homer seasons for the Rays in that stretch, and topped 100 RBIs three times.
“Awesome memories in Tampa Bay,” he said, smiling. “But now I’m trying to make some new ones.
“I’m a believer that maybe the rest will be the best. Looking forward to creating some memories here.”
Pena said he couldn’t have asked for a better situation to walk into this late in a season.
“You walk into a playoff race and you know guys,” he said. “I’ve got former teammates here (in James Shields and Wade Davis) and I’ve played against all these guys, so I walked in here and felt very comfortable.
“It kind of feels like I know everyone here. And, of course, that says a lot about the people in this clubhouse that they can make you feel so welcome.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org