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Published: 4/24/2006

Mud Hens notebook: Pena happy to see his old teammates

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Although he's with another team now, Carlos Pena was glad to return to Toledo this weekend and have the chance to reminisce about the greatest baseball memories of his life.

"The past is the past, but it doesn't stop me from having such good memories," said Pena, now with the Columbus Clippers. "Last year was such a wonderful experience for me - one I'll never forget."

Pena played 71 games for the Mud Hens during their championship run last year, hitting .311 with 12 home runs. He was released by the Tigers during spring training and signed a minor league contract with the Yankees on April 15.

"Everything happens for a reason, I trust that it will be for the better," Pena said. "Sometimes life works out in ways we can't comprehend, but all we can do is react to what happens to us in the right way."

After some work in extended spring training, Pena joined the Clippers last week. His deal with the Yankees includes a clause that if he isn't called up by the end of May, he becomes a free agent.

"I don't expect anything, except to come out here and have a good time with these guys and work hard," Pena said. "Whatever happens, happens."

Last season Pena was called up by the Tigers before the Hens' playoffs started, but he called nightly to find out how his old team did.

"That was the most fun I've ever had in baseball," Pena said. "It was like, I can't wait to play baseball today. The year we had, that's the exception. When I went back up, I almost felt like I was here still."

Yesterday he went 0-for-1 with four walks.

"It's good to see the guys," he said. "You make good friends, and to come back and play against them, it's definitely weird."

On Saturday in the team's first game of the series, he was chosen as the "strikeout player of the game." He struck out twice.

"That was messed up," Pena said jokingly.

BUNTS: Shortstop Don Kelly sat out again yesterday, recovering from a concussion suffered when he was hit in the back of the head with a relay throw on Wednesday. He coached first base. "We're just taking it day by day," Kelly said. "I feel better than I did [Saturday]." David Espinosa's third-inning home run was his first in Triple A ball.



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