Pena breaks fingers, lost for season
Rays slugger hurt on check-swing plunking vs. Yanks
NEW YORK -- Recent misfortunes for the Rays turned even worse Monday afternoon when Carlos Pena fractured his left index and middle fingers during the first inning of the Rays' 4-1 loss to the Yankees. He will be out for the remainder of the season.
"I was crushed," said Pena about his reaction upon learning that his season was finished. "I felt like if you took my heart, threw it around, and stepped on it a million times. That's how bad it felt. I was really very excited about the next 25 games. I was looking forward to them. And to have that taken away, it just crushed me.
"I know I'll probably be on some medication. The pain in my hand can be controlled. But the pain I'm feeling in my heart and soul right now is going to be really tough to get over."
Rays manager Joe Maddon called the situation "very discouraging."
"It's not an optimum situation at all," Maddon said. "He was swinging the bat about as well as anyone I've seen this season. He was also playing great defensively. He was already playing great, but he was going to have a spectacular season had he been able to finish the year off."
With Pena going on the 60-day disabled list, the Rays are planning to add Triple-A Durham outfielder/first baseman Chris Richard to the roster. The Rays were hoping he could be in New York in time for the second game of Monday's day-night doubleheader.
"Obviously, Carlos is an impact player," Evan Longoria said. "It would be kind of stupid of me to say that it's not going to have an impact on the club. But obviously, I'm sad for him, and I feel for him. It's a bad way to end the year -- and a good year. But on the flip side, we've got to keep going forward.
"It's going to be hard not to let that get us down. But I think this team has the ability to put things behind [it] and keep moving forward. And we've got to make that the focus for now. We feel for him and we're sad for him. Until the last game of the season, we've got to keep moving forward."
Facing an 0-1 pitch, Pena tried to check his swing on a pitch from Yankees starter CC Sabathia and got hit on the fingers of his left hand. After the ball made contact, it hit his bat. The play was called a swinging strike.
Pena dropped his bat and received a lengthy visit from Maddon and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield.
"I knew it was bad as soon as it hit me," Pena said. "I knew when the ball hit me it was bad. I mean, you don't take a 95-mph fastball on your finger, and your finger lives to tell about it."
After what appeared to be a thorough examination and a couple of practice swings, Pena stepped back into the batter's box and offered a feeble attempt at checking his swing for strike three.
When Pena reached the dugout, Porterfield was waiting from him on the steps to escort him back to the clubhouse. Willy Aybar replaced Pena at first base.
"When I took the dry swings just to see how bad it was, I knew it was very bad," Pena said. "But then when it got tested to the max, when you actually check swings, you have to stop all that weight with your hands, and it was just excruciating. So I knew exactly what I had to do, which was to come in and get it checked out. And sure enough, the X-rays -- it was evident it was pretty much snapped in half."
For the season, Pena hit .227 with 39 home runs and 100 RBIs.
"Phenomenal season," said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. "I know a lot of people focus on the batting average, but the way he's gotten on base, the power numbers, the big hits he's gotten for us, not to mention the way he's been swinging the bat since the All-Star break, really locked in. He's been a big part of our offensive performance this year."
For the remainder of the season, the Rays will likely use a rotation at first base that includes Ben Zobrist, Richard, and Aybar. The team does not expect any lasting effects for Pena.
"I don't anticipate any problems heading into next spring," Friedman said. "But it's going to take some time, and definitely for the next eight weeks he's going to be rehabbing and getting well."
Pena will head back to St. Petersburg on Tuesday to be examined by Rays team doctors.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.