All season long, pundits and front office alike routinely discussed the superior defense the ‘08 Rays consistently trotted out on the field. Often overlooked by the consistent play of Bartlett and Aki up the middle, or the speed of Crawford and Upton in the outfield, Carlos Pena captured the first Gold Glove in team history.
A non-roster invitee two years ago, Pena has been known more outside the Bay area for his bat, slugging 77 HRs and 232 RBI the past two seasons. But Rays' fans have known Pena’s value on the diamond, and Coach Maddon and his staff certainly missed him when he was out with a wrist injury earlier in the season.
For every flashy play that Longoria made, there was Pena to be sure to dig the long, difficult throw out of the dirt, as well as taking away the hot shots down the first base line stealing hits from left handed hitters.
Upon notification of the award, Pena was quoted as saying: “I love hitting home runs and I love the offense; I think it drives every kid to play the game,” said Pena, who is one year removed from a 46-home run season. “But I take so much pride in my defense. I’ve always dreamt of this, and finally I get recognized for the Gold Glove. You have no idea how excited I was yesterday when I received the news.”
A 30/100 gold glove first baseman is certainly a luxury, and one more reason why the Rays were AL champs, and why they certainly will not be considered one hit wonders in 2009.