Pena classy in farewell to Tampa Bay

Former Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena has taken out a half-page ad in Monday’s edition of the St. Petersburg Times to say a heartfelt goodbye to Rays fans, MLB.com reported.

Pena, who will play for the Chicago Cubs next season, joined the Rays in 2007 and had the best season of his career that year, hitting .282 with 46 home runs and 121 RBIs after only narrowly making the roster.

The Dominican left-hander had failed to impress in the preseason and was sent to minor league camp, but a knee injury to Greg Norton on the last day of spring training opened a door for Pena and the Rays signed him to a major league contract. He went on to be named the American League Comeback Player of the Year.

The Rays had the worst record in baseball in 2007, but had a drastic turnaround in Pena’s time with the club, winning the American League East championship twice, the American League once and reached the World Series in 2008.

"When I first became a Ray we were the worst team in baseball," Pena wrote in the ad. "But what was about to happen next, not even the greatest fiction writer in the world would have been able to come up with it.

"I have never in my life seen a team come together in such a way, where everyone humbly but undeniably believed with all their strength that we could make it to the top.

"This is the story of the little engine that could. The underdog story.

"I am so honored to be able to say that I was a part of that. I am so honored to be able to say that I was a RAY.

"Thanks for cheering for me when I performed well, but most importantly thanks for patting me on the back and encouraging me when it was difficult."

Asked why he decided to take out the ad, Pena said: "I didn’t want to leave without stating how much playing here, being a part of the Rays and living in the area meant to me.

"That’s all I’m looking to do, just give thanks to the fans and the area because they’re obviously very special to me."