10/16/07 8:30 PM ET
Pena named Sporting News All-Star
Comeback Player of the Year earns honor for AL first baseman
By Dawn Klemish / MLB.com
On Tuesday, The Sporting News named Pena the first baseman on its American League All-Star roster, which will appear in the Oct. 22nd issue of the magazine.
This nod, from voting by Major League players and managers, came two weeks after Pena was named AL Comeback Player of the Year.
"I think there's a good message [in winning the comeback award] about learning how to get up again after falling down," Pena said on Oct. 2. "Even though things might not go the way we want, don't let any setbacks get in the way of your dreams."
This season has been a new lease on life for the 29-year-old, who would not have made the roster out of Spring Training had Greg Norton not needed knee surgery. Pena, who homered just once with the Red Sox in 2006 after he was released from the Tigers during Spring Training that year, went deep 46 times with the Rays this season.
It was a performance only topped in the AL by the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who hit 54 home runs. While Rodriguez was TSN's Major League Player of the Year, Pena's home runs jump -- from one in 2006 to 46 the following season, was the second-biggest increase in Majors history.
"It's like a gift, you never expect things to come your way," Pena said. "I'm very excited about it."
And Pena's got good reason to be: He broke Rays records in RBIs (121), walks (103) and slugging percentage (.627), and finished with a .282 batting average and 99 runs scored on the year.
"He does not waste an at-bat," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Every at-bat became a new adventure. I think as the season wore on... his pitch selection got even better."
Dawn Klemish is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.