Looking for help at first, Rangers call up veteran slugger Pena
JUN 24, 2014 4:46p ET
ARLINGTON, Texas —
Carlos Pena is back in the major leagues with the team that drafted him in the first round quite a while ago.
Pena rejoined the Rangers on Tuesday, a week after signing a minor-league deal and going to Triple-A Round Rock, and 13 years after making his major-league debut with Texas. He was the 10th overall pick in 1998.
''God is good, man. Here I am, where it all started for me and it's truly very special,'' Pena said before the home series opener against Detroit on Tuesday night, when he was batting sixth and playing first base. ''Just to think back where it all started. ... This is crazy. I was looking at a picture I had of my first at-bat ever and it was with a Rangers uniform. My wife sent it to me this morning.''
The Rangers designated first baseman/outfielder Brad Snyder for assignment when they purchased the 36-year-old Pena's contract from Round Rock.
Since losing Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland to season-ending injuries, Snyder was splitting time at first base with Donnie Murphy. Neither Snyder nor Murphy had played first base in the major leagues before this season.
''We just brought in a first baseman to play first base, and he has a presence,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''He may be a little older, but he has presence. Throw something in the wrong spot, and he will hurt you. He knows how to play around that bag. He knows what to do, he knows where to be. It's second nature to him.''
In seven games at Round Rock, Pena hit .333 (8 for 24) with one home run.
The only person to go longer between games for the Rangers was Sammy Sosa, who made his major-league debut for Texas in 1989 and then played his final season there in 2007.
Fielder had a cervical fusion of the C5 and C6 disks in his neck last month. Moreland had ligament reconstructive surgery and bone realignment in his left ankle Monday, and the team said he went home to Mississippi.
Fielder and Moreland are expected to be ready for spring training next season.
After playing 22 games for the Rangers, Pena was traded to Oakland that winter. He has also played for Detroit, Boston, Tampa Bay, the Chicago Cubs, Houston and Kansas City. He was an All-Star in 2009 with Tampa Bay, when he had an AL-high 39 homers.
Pena went to spring training with the Los Angeles Angels, but was released March 23 after hitting .139 in 20 spring games.
''I was training. I was staying ready. I had faith that something was going to happen,'' he said. ''At the same time, I didn't want to force it. I wanted to make sure it was right and it was the right spot, the right situation.''