Notes: Pena wants to return to Rays
After breakout season, slugger hopes to remain in Tampa Bay
ST. PETERSBURG -- You can bet one decision that the Rays' brass won't have to rack their collective brains over this offseason is whether or not to bring back Carlos Pena in 2008.
Pena, 29, has been an amazing bargain for the Rays at $800,000 this season. Entering Friday, he leads the team with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs, he's played well at first base, and there's nobody better in the clubhouse.
Pena is arbitration-eligible, so the Rays could go to arbitration with him, or they could try and sign him to a multi-year deal.
One thing is for certain, Pena knows what he wants.
"I would love to come back next year," Pena said. "I don't consider anything else, really. In my mind, I'm going to be here, I look forward to being here. I like it here. I really like this team and the area."
Pena could be a member of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce the way he has waxed on about the area.
"I think it's a great place to live, it's beautiful," Pena said. "It's a good family place. We have great fans. If you think about it, when we get to where we want to get to, as far as the team is concerned, being in contention, Tropicana Field is going to go crazy. I can just tell by the way the fans are. I want to be a part of that; I really do. I look forward to great things. I get excited about what the future holds. I expect nice things. I expect positive things."
Pena has a full-time residence in Orlando, Fla., which means he doesn't have to go far to make sure everything is in order.
"I go back whenever I can," said Pena, who rents a place on Madeira Beach, too. "Sometimes, I'll just stay at the beach. When I have a day off, I'm like, 'Do I stay here or go home?' A lot of times I stay in St. Pete."
Pena smiled when asked if the Rays have broached the subject about next year yet.
"Not specifically," Pena said. "I look forward to playing here many years. I truly hope that is the case. And I don't see why not."
Hard to find any logic otherwise.
A look back at Wednesday: In Wednesday's 17-2 win over Baltimore, the Rays' 17 runs and 22 hits were their most in 799 all-time games at Tropicana Field. The Rays have scored more runs only two other times in club history. They scored 19 on July 29, 2006, at Yankee Stadium and June 24, 2004, at Toronto. The Rays have had more hits in a game only one other time in club history, which happened on June 24, 2004, at Toronto, when they had 24.
Shields for Miller: James Shields is the Rays' nomination for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
Fans voting online this week will help select the Major League player whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement. Fan voting for the award will be conducted on www.mlbplayers.com, the official Web site of Major League baseball players, through Monday.
Major League players, along with nine other Players Choice Awards, make the award every year to honor the players they believe are the best in the game. Players on each of the 30 Major League teams have nominated one teammate as a candidate for the 2007 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
This and that: Rays manager Joe Maddon said there is nothing new to report on outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who has been out since May 17 with a left quadriceps strain. Maddon added that he thought there would be some news in the next couple of days. ... Hitting coach Steve Henderson worked with slumping Jonny Gomes and they figured out he just needed to stand up taller. The Rays slugger had a 462-foot home run Wednesday night. ... Maddon said there was no news on when Carl Crawford's appeal for his two-game suspension would be heard.
Up next: The Rays will play the Blue Jays in the second game of their three-game series on Saturday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Jason Hammel will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.