10/04/08 2:58 PM ET
Pena expected back for Game 3
Rays slugger no longer suffering from scratched cornea
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Pena exited Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday after the second inning with blurred vision in his left eye. The Rays first baseman scratched his cornea at his home Wednesday night and said following Thursday's game that his vision had returned about 90 percent. Pena then participated in Friday's pregame batting practice and told the media he thought he was good to play, but was a late scratch from the lineup.
"I feel pretty good," Pena said Saturday. "I think everything is back to normal. I just can't wait to get back out there and join the team. ... It's definitely healed. Today I feel as normal as I did before it happened."
Pena elaborated on the problem he experienced Friday night.
"It was just the glare [at Tropicana Field] was incredibly uncomfortable," Pena said. "It was too bright for me to make out shapes. It's one of those things you tell yourself, 'I really want to do it,' but you go out there and try to catch a baseball and see four of them or three of them ... that's just not a smart thing to do."
Pena would not call the experience frustrating, because he said, "I've had a lot of fun."
"We've won two games," Pena said. "I definitely enjoyed it. I just want to be a part of it. I want to be out there playing first base and contributing. But it hasn't been bad at all, because I've had a lot of fun watching the guys play. We've won the first two."
In particular, Pena has enjoyed watching Willy Aybar, who filled in at first.
"Willy's done a great job," Pena said. "That's what he's done all year; what a great addition to this ballclub. I often tell him, 'We made it to the playoffs for the first time in history, and you had a lot to do with it,' and I make sure I tell him that. Because he has been a very important piece in this puzzle."
Rays manager Joe Maddon expects Pena to be in the lineup Sunday. If that is the case, the most likley scenario with left-hander John Danks pitching for the White Sox will see Aybar at designated hitter and Rocco Baldelli in right field, though Maddon would not commit to that on Saturday.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.