Pena wants to enjoy big moments with KC
Veteran first baseman's offensive success vs. Royals well documented
KANSAS CITY -- Veteran first baseman Carlos Pena has plenty of great memories from Kauffman Stadium in his 12 seasons, but now he says it's time to make them in a Royals uniform.
His highlight reel at "The K" includes setting a Tigers franchise record with six hits on May 27, 2004, in a 17-7 victory against the Royals, along with ending Joakim Soria's franchise record streak of 36 consecutive saves while Pena was with the Rays on Oct. 3, 2010. Pena said he could never forget that offensive day in May.
"I was seeing the ball really well, just being precise. Every swing I took was on," he said before Saturday night's game against the Tigers. "It was the best game I've ever had in my career with the feeling to match, which was I've never felt so locked in a game like that before. Close, but not like that. I just felt like if the ball was over the plate I was going to blast it that day, and I did that day. It was awesome."
In his career against the Royals, Pena batted .260 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs in 106 games. In 49 games as an opponent at Kauffman Stadium, he had six homers, 23 RBIs and batted .272.
"I have good memories against this ballclub and in this park," Pena said. "The best game I ever had was in this park. Hopefully, I can make even better memories associated with the Royals."
Pena has played for 10 teams in the 12 seasons and picked up a handful of honors along the way. He was named the 2007 American League Comeback Player of the Year, won a Silver Slugger Award in 2007 and a Gold Glove Award in '08. Pena was an All-Star in '09.
Through all the stops, he said he's always been comfortable at Kauffman Stadium.
"It's one of those good feel places for me," Pena said. "When you feel good, that's how you get ready to receive good things coming your way. Getting that positive vibe and good attitude gets you in the right frame of mind. The possibility of something good happening increases because of that type of mentality."
Pena signed with the Royals on Aug. 27 after being released from Houston on July 31. He played five games with Triple-A Omaha -- going 6-for-18 with two homers and six RBIs before having his contract selected on Sept. 3.
Pena hasn't played much for the Royals, just three games and two at-bats entering Saturday's game, but manager Ned Yost said he's made an impact in the dugout.
"He's great on the bench," Yost said. "Always talking, always watching, always in the game. He's got a great personality, a great attitude."
Pena said he embraces the veteran leader's role, especially on a young Kansas City club making a late playoff push. Compared to the World Series Tampa Bay team he played on in 2008, Pena said he thinks the Royals have a shot.
"We definitely have a very legitimate shot here of making the playoffs. It's within reach. I think it's closer than guys may think," Pena said. "In a span of 10 games, things could change dramatically when you find yourself above everybody else. All it takes is a few wins here, a few wins there, a couple losses on the other side, and now you're in business."