Brayan Pena to Become Ambassador for Army Troops During MLB Offseason

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2016

St. Louis Cardinals' Brayan Pena sprints to home plate and scores during the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena announced his plans Tuesday to join the Army Reserve in the offseason. 

"I'm very proud to announce with the support of my wife and family that I will be joining the Army Reserve this offseason," Pena said in a post on his Twitter account.

However, he was later told his MLB contract prohibits enlisting. According to ESPN.com's Mark Saxon, Pena will instead serve as an ambassador for the troops.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Pena migrated to the United States in 1999. He made his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2005 and has been a steady presence for the last dozen years as a backup catcher. The 34-year-old signed a two-year contract with St. Louis last offseason to serve as Yadier Molina's backup.

Pena made his season debut June 29 after knee surgery cost him the first three months, and he's appeared in three games on the year to date.

Off the field, Pena has become increasingly involved with MLB's international relations effort—particularly in Cuba. He was part of a contingent that traveled to the island nation this past winter as long-standing tension between Cuba and the United States eased. It was his first time home in more than 15 years.

"Listen, I am not a politician. I’m just a baseball player," Pena wrote for the Players' Tribune in January. "But I do believe in my heart that this trip was the start of something special. I know there’s a lot of issues to work out between the American and Cuban governments and MLB, but we should all come together to find a way."

The Army Reserve is a branch of the military designed to have trained soldiers in place in case they're needed during times of war. Pena would of had to undergo at least three months of active duty training after joining, which is likely why he is only able to join in an ambassador role.

Pena is under contract with the Cardinals through the 2017 season. 

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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