New Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Carlos Pena has some big shoes to fill.
Derrek Lee was the man at first for more than half of the 2000s before he was traded to the Braves this August, and you would struggle to find a single Cubs fan who could utter a cross word about Lee if they tried. Sure, his skills were eroding, his cold starts were notoriously frustrating, and we were generally happy when he was traded – but none of that speaks to how much he was loved and appreciated as a Cub. He will, in many ways, be missed.
But, for his part, Pena is certainly saying all of the right things to get in our good graces.
“I think it’s kind of funny how we all tend to gravitate toward the negative,” Pena said last week on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I think we need to start looking at the positives, especially for me. I’m that type of guy.”
With respect to his offensive struggles in 2010, Pena has many explanations, but he’s not making any excuses.
“Last year was a difficult year for me,” Pena explained. “When I look at that average I just know that it doesn’t represent me. You could talk about the shift [teams used against me], me not feeling too comfortable at the plate, you could talk about injuries. I hate making excuses. I don’t even want to waste my time doing that. I would rather say, ‘I know what I’m all about. I know what I can do.’ At your worst, look what you produced. So [I] just put that year behind me and now I can go forward. That’s the way to approach this. I think when you beat that drum of ‘my average, my average, my average,’ there’s nothing gained by that.”
And on his new team, Pena is effusive in his praise and excitement.
“For me as soon as I saw how things were looking and who was interested, the Cubs were my option, the Cubs were my preference,” he said. “Just as soon as I thought the possibility existed, for me to be part of this ballclub, I immediately wanted to be part of it. I didn’t really consider going anywhere else. When the Cubs came out and said they were interested, and I know that there was a need, I just wanted to wear this uniform. and it came about so I’m extremely excited.”
Pena has a long way to go to replace Derrek Lee on the field, but he’s definitely one step closer in our hearts and minds.
Oh, and as for that on-the-field part, I’ll be sure to put down my thoughts later in the offseason.