08/14/08 3:18 PM ET
Pena keeps it simple, finds '07 success
Rays first baseman sees the ball, hits the ball on recent tear
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"I'm seeing the ball well, and I'm focusing on that," Pena said. "It sounds kind of cliche, but it's true. When you can keep it that simple, you kind of allow yourself to play -- kind of get out of your own way."
The Tampa Bay first baseman was hitting .345 with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and eight RBIs over his past seven games entering Thursday. In addition, he had seven home runs in his past 18 games -- including his 22nd of the year on Wednesday night, off Oakland's Justin Duchscherer, to tie Evan Longoria for the team lead.
Pena believes the more he whittles down his approach, the better results he gets.
"Keeping that approach intact is the key," Pena said. "It's simple. Notice the difference in at-bats. Recognizing pitches, and taking pitches that I shouldn't be swinging at and swinging at pitches that are hittable. And it's as simple as that. Now, you put that together over a longer period of time, and good things happen. So, if I had to pick one thing, it's the fact I've been focusing on that and only that."
Pena said he now feels like he did during the 2007 season, when he earned American League Comeback Player of the Year honors after hitting 46 home runs with 121 RBIs.
"But sometimes, you want to complicate things," he said. "In reality, to do well, it actually takes less instead of more. But human nature, and my nature, is to try harder, when in reality it doesn't have anything to do with it. It's about keeping it simple. And when I'm at my best, that's what I do."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.