May 17 – Happy Birthday Carlos Pena

penaHe wasn’t a Red Sox for very long or very productive during the time he spent with Boston, but Carlos Pena did have some very good years as a Major League first baseman during his thirteen year career. Born in the Dominican Republic in 1978, he made his big league debut with the Rangers in 2001. Texas traded him to Oakland the following January and then, half-way through the 2002 season, he was one of seven players swapped in a three-team trade involving the Angels, Yankees and Tigers that landed Pena in Detroit.

He won the starting first baseman’s job in Motown during the 2003 season, which turned out to be one of the worst years in Tiger team history. His best year in Detroit was 2004 when he slugged 27 home runs and drove in 82. But after slumping significantly in 2005 and playing terribly the following exhibition season, Pena was abruptly released by the Tigers toward the end of their 06 spring training camp.

The Yankees then signed him that April to a minor league contract and he spent most of the 2006 season playing for New York’s minor league affiliate in Columbus. A clause in his Yankee contract permitted him to become a free agent if he was not called up to the parent club in a certain number of games and Pena exercised that clause that August. The Red Sox signed him the next day.

He finished the 2006 season playing eighteen games at first base for Boston, averaging .273 with 1 home run. Pena hit from the left side and was a strict pull hitter, not ideal for someone playing half their games in Fenway Park, which probably best explains why Boston showed little interest in re-signing him. Tampa Bay did instead and during the next four years he smacked 144 home runs and drove in 407 for the Rays.

Pena last played for the Royals in 2013. He turns 36-years old today and remains an unsigned free agent. Since he’s made close to $50 million during his big league career, I don’t think Carlos is too worried about being unemployed this season.

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