07/03/07 7:41 PM ET
Notes: Pena returns home
First baseman back at Fenway after Sox cameo last year
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Rays bench coach Bill Evers teased Pena, asking him what he had done to merit such treatment. Pena, like always, just continued to smile.
"I've always enjoyed going back to Boston," said Pena, who appeared in 18 games with the Red Sox last season and smacked a walk-off homer for his hometown team on Sept. 4, 2006. "It's my hometown. My parents still live here. I know it very well. Fenway Park is beautiful, there's just something about it. It's funny, I can actually smell it, Fenway."
Pena remembers going to the games as a kid, even if they were sold out.
"We got in there somehow," Pena said. "And it was funny. We would try to get on SportsCenter."
Pena explained how he and his friends would head to the right-field bleachers wearing bright colors and a purpose in mind.
"We would look horrible, but the point was we just wanted to get on SportsCenter, so we would just pray for somebody to hit one out there," said Pena.
"And if there was a home run we'd do everything in our power to get the baseball. We would pretty much be stupid. We'd get home and watch the highlights to see if we made it."
Pena said they accomplished their mission two or three times.
Who was Pena's favorite player while growing up in Red Sox Nation?
"Mo Vaughn [was] definitely my favorite," Pena said. "He played first base, hit left-handed, he was awesome."
Lineup change: The Rays' lineup had a little different look Tuesday night, with Carl Crawford moving up a spot to the three-hole, Brendan Harris moving to the third spot and Pena batting cleanup.
"A mild shakeup," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Carl's just been struggling a bit the last couple of weeks and I thought a change of venue more than anything might help him. It wasn't overtly dramatic. Brendan Harris has hit well in every spot we have put him in this year. No big deal there, permits me to put Carlos in the four hole, a little bit of a break-up right-left, and then [Greg Norton batting fifth] to protect Pena."
Crawford has just three hits in his last 29 at-bats.
"[We're] just trying to do whatever we can to shake it up a click," Maddon said. "Just put [Crawford] in a different house for a little bit."
Roster move: The Rays reinstated right-hander Juan Salas from the restricted list Tuesday and transferred right-hander Tim Corcoran (elbow strain) to the 60-day disabled list. Salas was suspended 50 games on May 7 for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Upton update: B.J. Upton (strained left quadriceps) did not play in the Bulls' 3-1 win over Toledo on Monday night and was running a low-grade fever Tuesday.
Upton was expected to sit out Tuesday as well because of the possibility of him becoming dehydrated, which would make him more vulnerable to incurring a muscle pull.
When pressed about the chances of Upton returning to the Rays before the end of the first half, Maddon replied: "It's pretty much putting the kibosh on [the first half], I think so."
Crawford at Fenway: Crawford likes the left-field wall in Fenway Park, a.k.a. the "Green Monster," and believes it is a great target for a left-handed hitter to aim for. Entering Tuesday night's game, Crawford had collected 49 hits at Fenway Park, 15 to left field, 17 to center and 17 to right. Of his 15 hits to left, eight have been doubles and one a home run.
Eight-game slide: Entering Tuesday night's contest, the Rays had lost a season-high eight straight games, their longest slide since dropping nine straight from Sept. 10-19, 2006. The Rays are hitting just .200 (52-for-260) over the stretch with 21 runs scored. Entering their current slide, the Rays had the second-highest run total (110) and third-highest average (.298) in the Major Leagues from June 5-24.
Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park. Right-hander Edwin Jackson will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Tim Wakefield. First pitch is slated for 1:05 ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.