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10/24/08 5:28 PM ET

An interview with Carlos Pena

Rays first baseman talks about facing Jamie Moyer in Game 3

What's the best approach to Jamie Moyer's change up?

CARLOS PEÑA: Well, we've got to approach him the same way we approach a finesse pitcher. We're just going to try to wait as long as we can before we commit, before we swing. Easier said than done, obviously, but that will be our goal, just to wait as long as possible.

How did the expectations of this club and the atmosphere around the club change so dramatically from last year to this year?

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CARLOS PEÑA: The attitude has been there since last year. One of the things that I always talked about was the type of environment that was here last year. Even though we were not doing so well in the standings. However, I saw that there were so many good things going on as far as that was concerned. And it's only a matter of time before it actually materializes on the field as wins. And this year is proof of that.

So it's very satisfying to actually see it come into being. But it started last year, just the way we got along, the way we played together, how much fun we had and the young energy of this ballclub. I think it goes a long way. And that's where it all started.

Just as in the ALCS you dropped your first game and came back and won the second game. Was that almost a relief for you guys? And what does that do to change the mindset getting that first one out of the way?

CARLOS PEÑA: Well, it's just huge for us to come to Philly with the series tied up. Obviously the first game we weren't able to score enough runs, even though we got a great pitching performance from our staff. Yet yesterday we were able to push some across and actually give James Shields some breathing room for him to go out there and just throw his pitches.

So to come to Philly with the series tied is extremely important, and I'm very glad we were able to accomplish that. And now basically we've got a best of five left to play. That's the way we view it. Very important win for us. And we don't try to compare it to the previous series. We live in the moment. And we try to win as many games as we possibly can. Every time we play we try to win that ballgame. We take it a game at a time. But it does feel good to come to Philly with that victory.

You've made it pretty clear that Tampa Bay is home for you, that this was the place you wanted to be and you wanted to stay. How are you able to stick to your plan as a hitter, having been with so many other organizations trying to change you and tinker with your style? Also could you talk a little bit about the effect of Kevin Long when you were with the Yankee organization?

CARLOS PEÑA: You know, it's very difficult when you're going through different teams and you get together with different coaches. I was so happy to get to Tampa and actually meet Steve Henderson because he basically just let's us go out and be free. He keeps things simple. In fact, after every at bat, the first question is, did you see the ball? Not, you swung this way or you swung that way. And that's something that I really needed. I needed someone like that. And I'm blessed to have him in this ballclub. I think it has helped me develop into the hitter that I had always envisioned being.

Going through New York, also, in Triple A over there with the Yankees, having Kevin Long as the hitting coach, that was beneficial to me. Totally different styles of coaching, but it's one step that maybe I had to go through to get to the point where I'm at right now. I'm still learning so much, but most of it is just emptying my mind and just going out there and just seeing the ball and keeping things simple. That's where I'm trying to get to, just to the mastery of just being free and stop thinking, just see the ball and hit it.

When Garza and Navarro had their disagreement in Texas, what did you do to help restore the peace and help them get back together?

CARLOS PEÑA: You know, we talked. We talked. And it was great because Garza immediately both of them, as soon as it was over, it was over. But it was the heat of the moment type of thing. And just like any family feud, you know, love prevails, you never know. And that's exactly what happened. The very same night they were just talking like nothing ever happened. Obviously the public perception is different because I know it's on TV. But when you're in there and then you see them joking around, you're like, whatever. And that's it, you drop it and you keep on going.

That's the type of intensity that they both bring. They're two intense guys. Garza is very intense on the mound and obviously Navarro is very intense behind the plate. If anything, I think it sparked a fire in all of us. So I'm just glad that they're hanging out and eating pizza together now.

Sorry if this was asked before, but what has Aki Iwamura meant to this ballclub? Is he one of the guiding lights of the young ones?

CARLOS PEÑA: We talk about this all the time, Aki is one of the best players we've ever seen. To be able to do what he has done, first of all, playing third base, Gold Glove level third base. I've never seen a third baseman like him. Obviously Evan is awesome. But last year Aki impressed everyone playing third base. And now he's doing the same thing at second base. It's not easy. It's two different angles.

The way he handles the bat, the way he has adapted to the lead off spot in the lineup, that is impressive to me and among ourselves we always talk about how talented Aki is, and how multi dimensional he is as a player, all the things that he brings to the ballclub. And we say, man, you know, this guy is a great baseball player. He's the perfect definition of a great baseball player, that's Aki Iwamura for us. Great personality, awesome in the clubhouse. What he does on the field just speaks for itself.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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