Tony Pena fit the mold of how the 2011 PawSox operated: first-time members of the organization leading the charge.
Once a shortstop in the Kansas City Royals and San Fransisco Giants organizations, Pena took major strides with his pitching in Pawtucket. That, in combination of the depleted rotation for Pawtucket towards the end of the season, led him into the starting rotation for the first time since 2009 when he started one game with then Royals affiliate, the Burlington Bees.
In 33 games in Pawtucket (14 as a starter), Pena pitched a total of 116.1 innings, posting a record of 9-6 with an earned run average of 3.56, struck out 65, walked 36 and have three saves.
During the winter, Pena took his talents to the Dominican Winter League and played with the Aguilas Cibaenas. He saw himself in his old role as a reliever, but that seems to be what he will be in Pawtucket full-time this season.
In 23 games in the DWL, Pena pitched 19.2 innings, struck out 11, walked five, earned three saves and registered a 1-0 record, with an ERA of 3.20.
There is no doubt Pena will be a full-time reliever with Pawtucket this season, barring any set-backs to a solid rotation that the team will hold in 2012.
If that’s the case, the PawSox may use him as a closer, only if Michael Bowden finds a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. A call-up to Boston seems unlikely, but he shouldn’t hang his head on it because he has shown his improvement, and that is excepted to grow this upcoming season.
Maybe the Red Sox can covert the 31-year old to a shortstop, in order to provide some depth in a position that has been seen as a concern for the boys in Boston.