Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Maddon, Pena meet after game
Posted May 8, 2008 by Marc Lancaster
Updated May 7, 2008 at 11:57 PM
TORONTO—Joe Maddon called Carlos Pena into his office following tonight’s game, apparently attempting to get his slugger refocused on the positive after another rough night at the plate.
Pena struck out in three of his four at-bats tonight, giving him 10 strikeouts in his last 12 trips to the plate over three games. Maddon told reporters before meeting with Pena that he didn’t see anything wrong with Pena’s swing; he thought Pena had just expanded his strike zone too much the last couple of nights and was swinging at pitches he should have left alone.
From the way Pena described the chat, which lasted more than 20 minutes with the door closed, it had nothing to do with mechanics and everything to do with peace of mind.
“Joe always has some great things to say,” said Pena. “All he wants to me to do is go out there and enjoy myself and not put too much pressure on myself. Just make sure I come out and have fun out there. Those are his words. He talks about how subconsciously sometimes time might have things in your mind, but he just wants me to go out there and play free, and I think it’s awesome. I’m so grateful for the people that I have around me, the support that I’ve got. It’s awesome.”
Pena admitted that “at times” he might have been pressing at the plate, trying to make too much happen. But after discussing the need for “clarity of mind,” among other things, Pena felt better about lies ahead for him.
“So what, you’ve had two days that have been kind of tough, the last two days,” he said. “Beyond that, you had two weeks straight of great swings, great contact, great at-bats. Am I going to define myself because of the last two days that I’ve had? It’s not practical to even think that way. That’s when it’s so important to, OK, you had a bad day? Throw it out the window, man. Throw it out the window and let’s just come back and play tomorrow.”