8/24 Pena: ‘It was flattering the Cubs retained me’
The Cubs told Carlos Pena on Wednesday they pulled him off waivers after the Yankees claimed the first baseman. Cubs interim GM Randy Bush, who has taken over the GM duties following the dismissal of Jim Hendry, spoke to Pena before the team’s game against the Braves.
“The conversation was to reassure me how much they think of me,” Pena said. “I made sure I told him likewise and that I appreciate being here and being a Cub, and how much pride I take in wearing the uniform.
“Regardless of what I was hearing or what people were talking about, I never lost sight that today I’m wearing this uniform and this is my whole entire eternity right here,” Pena said.
The Yankees put in a waiver claim on Pena. GM Brian Cashman said a deal seemed unlikely. Pena has $5 million of his total $10 million contract deferred until January 2012. If the first baseman was dealt, the Cubs would pay a pro-rated portion of the contract, which means they would be obligated for the $5 million.
Pena had heard the rumors, although not directly.
“I try to stay oblivious to all that,” he said. “It’s almost impossible because of how advanced we are with the media, computers, the Internet. Even if I’m not … connected to the Internet, my friends are, my family is, my brothers may be and they may say something.”
Pena, 33, who signed a one-year deal last December, was batting .223 with 23 homers and 67 RBIs this season, and has reached the 20-homer mark for the fifth straight year.
He didn’t take the waiver process as anything but a procedural move. Most teams put their entire roster through waivers.
“I certainly wasn’t the only one going through waivers,” Pena said. “It was flattering to see the interest. It was more flattering to see how the Cubs pulled back and retained me. If anything, I tried to look at those positives.”
Pena also complimented Bush for the professional way he gave the first baseman the news.
“It’s weird to go through this type of process but at the end of the day, I have to keep it simple,” Pena said. “Get here, put the uniform on, grab a bat, a glove and go play baseball and leave it at that because that’s all I can control.”
— Carrie Muskat