I can only assume TPJ doesn’t want to play in AAA any more, because he sure as hell made a huge splash in his first game with the Kansas City Royals. The Atlanta Braves had designated Pena to play in the concrete mausoleum in Richmond at the beginning of the 2007 season, but the Royals had other ideas. They traded a minor-league pitching prospect for the shortstop, hoping to find a replacement for immensely disappointing former ROY Angel Berroa.
The Royals have had experience with light-hitting shortstops, and they’ve had experience with guys named Tony Pena, so hopes were not high coming out of the gate. Most of the buzz around the opening day game against the Boston Red Sox surrounded Alex Gordon, and rightfully so. Gordon is the type of player you can build a team around. The wily Curt Schilling was able to handle the rising star, striking him out twice.
But the unknown Pena displayed the solid defense that was expected of him, charging some balls in the gap and starting some double plays that killed Boston rallies. In addition, he legged out two triples with the ball in play, and scored twice. Not bad for a guy who was going back to the minors a few days ago.
Will Pena do this all season long? Doubtful. Is he an improvement over Angel Berroa and Andres Blanco at his position? Unquestionably. On defense alone, he will help the boys in blue win games, and some fundamental ability at every position is what the Royals have needed for some years now.
This could be another tough year for the Royals. Probably will be. But with Meche, Gordon, and Pena, opening day leaves us in the rare position to quote Pena’s dad, a former Royals manager.
Nosotros Creemos. Juntos Podemos.