ANAHEIM -- Carlos Pena has struggled offensively this season. The Rays first baseman carried a .193 batting average into Sunday's game against the Angels.
Pena is a thinker and, sometimes, he believes that thinking leads to over analyzing things.
"I think the ability to just accept who you are, who I am as a hitter [is something he has to do]," Pena said. "I know what I bring to the table. I'm a selective hitter, I make pitchers work, I know I play good defense, I know I get on base, I walk, I hit for power, I drive in runs. I will strike out. I have the shift working against me. The chances are against me of hitting .350.
"So accepting that and being OK with that is incredibly important, because the moment you try to combat it or fight against it or resist, it persists. It's like the old saying: What you resist persists."
Pena said his case is the perfect example of what he is trying to resist persisting.
"So instead of me worrying too much, I'm trying to put it on the back burner and forgetting about it, knowing that at the end of the year my numbers are going to be fine," Pena said. "Most important, I want to make sure that I show up for my team today. My skills are here. My eyes are here, my hands are here, my power's here. My defense is here. My attitude is here. And I want to make sure I bring it all clean, sharp, and crisp today to see if we can win this ballgame."
Rays manager Joe Maddon pointed out that Pena, despite hitting for a low average, still draws a lot of walks and his on-base percentage is .323.
"His on-base percentage based on his batting average is outstanding," Maddon said. "... Any time a hitter exceeds his batting average by more than 100 points, that's pretty good work. And again, I don't want him to be concerned about his batting average.
"I still believe if he were to get a little more finely tuned with the strike zone, that's going to be his best way to start getting better pitches to really drive, because people are still challenging him on the periphery and not really coming after him."
Hitting against a shifted infield has worked against left-handed-swinging Pena greatly over the past several years, which Maddon believes is a difficult thing for a hitter to experience.
"When you're hitting balls hard into the shift and you're out, what does that do to you psychologically?" Maddon said. "That wears you down a little bit. When you were 16 or 17 that was a hit and now it's an out. That's different, man. It's not easy to just turn the field around at a certain juncture in life. It's defensive sophistication that has caught up to him a little bit."
Price hopes Shields still around after Trade Deadline
ANAHEIM -- David Price teased with reporters that James Shields' bags were packed prior to Sunday's game against the Angels. The obvious inference was that the Rays right-hander had been traded.
Not so fast.
In reality, Sunday was getaway day for the Rays, so Shields' bags were packed, as were those of his teammates.
Easy smiles aside, Price said he would "definitely" be happy once the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET because he doesn't want to see his close friend get traded, but he added: "I don't know how that works, but I know teams make trades after the Deadline." Then, a player would first have to clear waivers.
Shields has been the Rays player whose name comes up most often in trade speculation. Shields said that he too is "definitely looking forward to Tuesday" -- but not because of the Deadline.
"Because I get to pitch," he said with a smile. Shields is scheduled to start Tuesday night's game against the Athletics in Oakland.
Joe Maddon has a feeling about the approaching Deadline.
"My feeling normally is this -- and I've almost always been right -- is that we're not going to do anything," the Rays manager said. "That's my normal thing. We talk a lot. It always takes two to dance and at the end of the day, it's difficult to match up all the time. So I would bet nothing really happens."
Since the break, relievers have been All-Stars
ANAHEIM -- The Rays bullpen put forth another shut-down effort Saturday night, when Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney took care of the final eight outs of the Rays' 3-0 win over the Angels.
Entering Sunday's game against the Angels, the Rays bullpen ranked as the American League's best since the All-Star break.
In the last 26 2/3 innings, the bullpen has allowed only one run and struck out 41. Rays relievers have worked 48 innings since the All-Star break and have been scored upon in only four of those innings. Their 1.69 ERA since the break is the best in the American League.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.