Found June 12, 2013 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
Mlb-baseballl-2010-august
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Brayan Pena wasn't the most talented catcher to ever don a Royals uniform. But Pena certainly was one of the more popular catchers among the fans, as well as a favorite inside the clubhouse. "He always had a smile and so much positive energy," former teammate and still close friend Bruce Chen said. Pena was so positive, in fact, he never envisioned a baseball life beyond the Royals. He often told reporters he planned to "retire a Royal" and that he would gladly sign a 10-year contract with the Royals "anytime." Of course, neither of those scenarios worked out. The Royals outrighted Pena to the minor leagues last November, thus removing him from the 40-man roster. Pena chose free agency over a minor league deal. "It was a sad day for me," Pena said. "I loved Kansas City. I loved the fans. I loved my teammates. I really thought I'd be a Royal forever. "But I understand the game is a business. It wasn't up to me and it was out of my control." Pena still isn't sure why the Royals outrighted him, but the move did ultimately save the Royals some money at the time, or so they thought. Pena made 875,000 last year and likely would have received an increase if he had re-signed with the big league club. The Royals instead opted to claim Brett Hayes as the primary backup to Salvador Perez. Hayes was signed on a one-year, 600,000 deal. But then George Kottaras became available on waivers and the Royals grabbed him, signing him to a one-year, 1 million deal. Kottaras beat out Hayes in spring training, and the Royals essentially didn't save anything by cutting Pena loose. "Those are the types of things you don't know will happen at the time," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "We had other moves to make back then and we needed to cut back in areas. But then George became available. "I've always been a big fan of Brayan's." And Pena knows that. The feeling is certainly mutual. "The only thing I know for sure is that I'm very grateful to Dayton Moore," Pena said. "I will always have a special place in my heart for him because he and the Braves signed me when I was 16 years old and they gave me a chance. "And then when he got to the Royals he gave me another shot. I had some great years here in Kansas City that I will never forget. I made a lot of great friends. "Not that many teams believed in me, but Dayton and the Royals did. That's why I'm still in baseball today." Pena's best season with the Royals came in 2009 when in a limited role he hit .273 with six homers and 18 RBIs. Pena's numbers were not overly impressive here, but his play did catch the eye of division rival Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Within a day after Pena filed for free agency, the Tigers called. "When my agent called me and told me the Tigers were interested," Pena said, "I just said, 'Let's sign.' This team has really embraced me. The guys made me feel welcome from the get-go. Everyone was so good to me the minute I got to Detroit. "Jim Leyland has been just great. He said he saw me play all those years in Kansas City and he really appreciated my game and what I can do to contribute. That made me feel so good." Landing a job with a World Series contender at first didn't seem real to Pena. "To be in the same room and the same team with guys like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, it's a special feeling," he said. "And to play for one of the greatest managers in the history of the game, that's incredible. He respects you as a player and as a person. He treats everyone the same very well." So far, Pena has done his part to contribute. In a backup role again, Pena has hit .289 with two homers and 11 RBIs. And more important, Pena is playing on a first-place team. But that doesn't mean Pena doesn't miss his old teammates. He still keeps in touch with several, most notably Chen. Pena will be Chen's best man at Chen's November wedding. "I miss them very much," Pena said. "I have a lot of respect for them and I hope they have a lot of respect for me. We've had a good relationship. We all kind of grew up together. It was fun watching Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas come up as kids and now they'll be the faces of the franchise. "They're going to be good. But I've got a new life now." You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Max Scherzer is ripping that shadow to shreds

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers has made twelve starts and he has not lost a game. Not only has he not lost a game, he does not look capable of losing a game. He has pitched in the shadow of Verlander for so long that he has always been considered the other guy. He might just be the guy now. He has gotten better every season in the last four and now Scherzer is in an elite class...

Jose Valverde, No Team Wants a Closer Who Blows Saves

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander did what he always does. Verlander has a 15-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in 25 starts against the Kansas City Royals and he dominated again, with seven shutout innings, giving up just three singles and not permitting a runner past first.He struck out eight and walked two, while throwing 117 pitches.“Probably my best start of the season. I’m not...

Dombrowski must address closer issue

For nine months it has been apparent that the Detroit Tigers need a closer. Yet, during this period, Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski has unsuccessfully tried to reassure us that the Tigers lack of a proven closer wasnt as critical as most of us perceived. First, Dombrowski tried to sell raw rookie Bruce Rondon as the answer - only to have that experiment blow up during spring training...

Living life to the Max

DETROIT Max Scherzer is stern and focused on the mound. Hes all business with a ball in his right hand and a batter sizing him up 60 feet, 6 inches away. And business has been great for Scherzer, whose vastly improved curveball has made him a likely All-Star and possible 20-game winner. In the clubhouse, Scherzer is different. He can usually be found joking with somebody or running...

Tigers bullpen blows another game

After striking out his first three times, Lorenzo Cain came through in the ninth inning for the Kansas City Royals. Cain hit a tying, two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth and Eric Hosmer had a winning RBI single in the 10th, helping the Royals rally for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. Cain struck out three times against Detroit ace Justin...

Valverde blows save as Tigers fall to Royals, 3-2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Lorenzo Cain hit a tying, two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth inning and Eric Hosmer had a winning single in the 10th, helping the Kansas City Royals overcome Justin Verlander's seven scoreless innings Wednesday in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Verlander did not allow a batter past first base, giving up three singles,...

Royals' Shields-Santana duo is on an amazing streak

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Royals general manager Dayton Moore went searching for innings eaters to bolster his rotation last winter. What he found were the poster boys for that term. Right-handers James Shields and Ervin Santana so far have been everything they were advertised to be, and perhaps more. Shields and Santana have gobbled up innings like Pac-Men, and are becoming statistical...

Valverde loses lead for Verlander, KC tops Tigers

Justin Verlander did his part, shutting down the Kansas City Royals. Once he left, the Detroit Tigers ran into trouble. Jose Valverde gave up a tying, two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain with two outs in the ninth inning, then Eric Hosmer hit a winning single in the 10th that lifted the Royals over Detroit 3-2 Wednesday. ''No closer wants a blown save,'' Valverde said...

Detroit Tigers Game 64 Grades: Jose Valverde’s Reign of Terror Costs Detroit Again

Less than two weeks ago, Jose Valverde mangled a brilliant Max Scherzer start in Baltimore, allowing the Orioles to storm back for a walk-off win. Papa Grande did it again Wednesday, blowing a 2-0 lead — and Justin Verlander win — in the bottom of the ninth as Lorenzo Cain took him deep to left field for a two-run homer. The host Royals then chalked up the winner in the bottom...

Cheslor Cuthbert promoted to AA

by John Viril— Kansas City Star Royals beat reporter Bob Dutton tweeted this morning that the organization promoted 20-year-old 3B prospect Cheslor Cuthbert to AA NW Arkansas. The news culminates a nice turn-around for Cuthbert, who struggled last season and early in 2013 in High A Wilmington. Cheslor Cuthbert, whom Baseball Prospectus rated the #8 prospect in the Royals system...

Tigers' Anibal Sanchez doesn't expect to miss next start

The Detroit Tigers scratched right-handed starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez from his most recent start due to shoulder tightness. While arm injuries can prove troublesome, Sanchez told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he doesn't expect to miss his next scheduled start as a result of the shoulder ailment. "I'm not worried,'' said Sanchez, who described it more...

Why aren’t the Detroit Tigers better than they are?

A lot of Detroit Tigers fans keep scratching their heads wondering how this team can be dominating in so many statistical categories yet not thoroughly crushing the competition as a whole. It’s a fair point. The Tigers are 36-27, which is good enough to place them 5.5 games atop the spotty AL Central. 36-27 isn’t exactly a record that makes you want to hide your eyes. After all...

Recap: Cain HR, Hosmer single lead Royals over Tigers 3-2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) After striking out his first three times, Lorenzo Cain came through in the ninth inning for the Kansas City Royals. Cain hit a tying, two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth and Eric Hosmer had a winning RBI single in the 10th, helping the Royals rally for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. Cain struck out three times against...

What You Knew and Didn’t Know About the Tigers and Astros

Part of this is the easy part. The Tigers are good and the Astros are bad, and that much you knew. That much you’ve known for weeks, or months, or years I guess depending on things. The Tigers lost on Wednesday, but they lost because of Jose Valverde and James Shields, and they still have a comfortable lead in the American League Central. I’m writing this before there’s a Wednesday...

Royals-Rays Preview

Home-field advantage has been critical over the last three seasons when the Tampa Bay Rays meet the Kansas City Royals. That should mean the Rays have a decided edge since they are hosting this four-game series with the Royals that begins Thursday night. Only two of the last 15 meetings have been won by the visiting team. Kansas City (30-33) has lost seven of eight at Tropicana...
All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.