Tony Pena Jr., The Pitcher

Tony Pena Jr.’s quest to reach the majors as a pitcher is going swimmingly. Over the weekend Pena Jr. made his tenth appearance as a minor league pitcher. This marked his first as a pitcher in Triple-A, and Pena Jr. did pretty well, going three innings, fanning three, walking nobody, and allowing only two hits. Previously Pena had several appearances at Class-A Burlington with 14 strikeouts in 14.3 innings being the stat of importance.

Given their aggressive approach in advancing Pena, and the fact that he’s previously pitched in the majors I’d imagine he may get a few appearances for the big league club this September. It’s not like the Royals are going to lose anything by running Pena – a pitcher who may or may not have a better shot at a major league future than countless other Royals relievers – to the mound.

I would comment that Trey Hillman and company should embrace the idea of getting familiar with all the potential nuances and advantage of Pena’s flexibility, but being in the American League means there aren’t many to take note of. Lou Piniella and Bobby Cox have shown the willingness to keep two pitchers in the game at once by taking the outgoing pitcher and placing him in the corner outfield, only to replace the new pitcher a batter or two later.

I suppose that means Pena’s greatest usage may come during interleague play. His bat is something to avoid, but he seems like a twitchy manager’s fantasy: a reliever, pinch runner, and defensive substitute rolled into one.

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For real? How does the fact that he pitching an inning of mop-up work as a shortstop come into play as a reason for a probably call-up?