Notes: Pena returns to Motown
Cano stealing the spotlight; pitching staff rounding into shape
DETROIT -- Bitter? No way. Angry? Not at all.There were no negative emotions whatsoever for Carlos Pena as he returned to Comerica Park for the first time since the Tigers cut him during Spring Training in 2006. "It's so cool. It's so good to have so many great memories here," Pena said. "Sometimes you like to go back and see your successes, and to use your past successes as a source of confidence or energy. Many times I've gone back [in my head] to here and the successes I've had here as a baseball player. Just to be back here just makes it easier to visualize those memories in the same stadium where I accomplished these feats." Pena was tabbed as the Tigers "first baseman of the future" when he was brought over in a three-team deal in July 2002. He had an up and down stay with the Tigers, but was typically one of the lone bright spots on a struggling team.
His 461-foot shot in September 2005 remains the longest home run ever hit at Comerica."That was cool," Pena said. "It was against Seattle and it was raining and the wind was blowing in, it was like the most improbable of situations. Low fastball. As soon as I hit it, I was running to first base, and I was thinking 'I want to see where this one lands.'" He hit 37 homers at Comerica as a Tiger, but Monday marked the first time he returned as a visiting player. He had a large smile on his face as he bounced around the visiting clubhouse talking about life since the Tigers and how he has maintained a positive attitude in his life, baseball or otherwise. "If I start spiraling towards something I don't like I say, 'Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second. Look at your jersey. Your name is on the back. You're playing first base. Look at your teammates. How cool is this?' You focus on the blessings that you have," Pena said. Both Pena and the Tigers seem to have moved on quite well since they parted ways. The Tigers went to the 2006 World Series while Pena is now third in the American League with 26 homers. "They're intelligent people and they make decisions," Pena said, referring to the Tigers' front office. "I don't waste my time holding grudges. At the time [I was cut] I wasn't excited at all. I wasn't happy about it because we have pride, we have dreams, we have goals and, at the moment, they got ripped away from me. You make a choice. You can hold your head down and hate everybody, or you say 'Life goes on. Let's move on to the next adventure or the next challenge.' You make a choice." Pena hit an RBI double in his first at-bat on Monday. That darn Cano: Carl Crawford was named as AL Player of the Week on Monday. It was the second time he was awarded this season and also marked the second time in less than a month a Devil Rays player has had to share the honor with the Yankees' Robinson Cano. B.J. Upton also shared the award with Cano in July. "The only problem we have is Robinson Cano, we just can't take the stage by ourselves," manager Joe Maddon joked. Crawford hit .591 with three homers and six RBIs last week. The three homers last week gave him nine for the season, in what had been a dip in his power numbers this season. He has increased his homer total in each of his first five seasons in the Majors, and will need to hit 10 more to break last season's total of 18. "We've only got a few more months left to play," Crawford said. "So I don't got much time to do what I need to do. That's why I'm happy we got two months left so I got time to try and catch up." Expect to see more of the same from Crawford the rest of the season, Maddon said. "Right now he's playing at a very high level and I expect him to stay hot," Maddon said. "He just has that look about him." Pitching staff update: Jay Witasick, who has been on the disabled since July 22 with a strained elbow, will make the first of two rehab appearances on Wednesday at Class A Vero Beach. He will also throw on Saturday and is scheduled to throw one inning in both appearances. He will be reevaluated after the second outing. Maddon said "it's possible" Tim Corcoran could be activated from the 60-day DL when he is eligible on Thursday. Corcoran has been improving since elbow problems put him on the DL on June 12. Jason Hammel, who left his last start after 54 pitches with shoulder tightness, should be fine for his scheduled start on Tuesday. Maddon said he didn't plan on stretching Hammel out too far and didn't expect his pitch count to get much over 90. Up next: Hammel (1-1, 5.40) will start against Detroit lefty Nate Robertson (6-9, 5.05) in the second game of a four-game series on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET at Comerica Park.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.