3/11 Pena feeling good at plate

Carlos Pena doesn’t gauge his progress this spring by the numbers. He’s going by feel, and on Friday, he felt really good. He hit his first spring homer and first extra-base hit for the Cubs in a 4-3 win over the White Sox. Pena has averaged 36 homers over the last four seasons but last year, hit .196. He came into Friday’s game with two hits in 17 at-bats in Cactus League play. How was he dealing with the slow start?

“It all depends on the way I evaluate myself,” Pena said. “If I evaluate how many hits I get, then I could say I got off to a bad start. The way I’ve been evaluating myself is more on how I feel and if I’m tracking pitches well and making hard contact. I’ve done so over the past few weeks, not with the results I wanted, obviously, but I think as hitters, we have to be careful on how we evaluate ourselves.”

What’s important, Pena said, is to focus on the right things. He’s been working in the batting cage each day with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on his approach.

“If you focus on the outcome sometimes,” Pena said, “you put together a pretty good at-bat, one pitch, you don’t hit it well, and then you are over-criticizing yourself and beating yourself up and it can be really detrimental for the next two weeks instead of building off good evaluation.

“I try to be careful with how I evaluate myself,” he said. “I wouldn’t consider it totally a bad start, but it’s been progressing the way I expected and hopefully I can carry this on through the end of Spring Training and into the season.”

— Carrie Muskat

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