07/19/2004 6:34 PM ET
Wily Mo is Player of the Week
Pena hits .500, two homers in abbreviated week
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It was a short week in the Major Leagues because of the All-Star break, but Wily Mo Pena made the most of it.
|Wily Mo Pena gets some early congratulations from D'Angelo Jimenez. (David Kohl/AP)
The Cincinnati outfielder was named the National League's Player of the Week after going 7-for-14 with two home runs and six RBIs while posting a 1.000 slugging percentage in four games.
"That's great," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He had a heck of a week, didn't he? Good for him."
Pena, who has been getting more playing time than expected this season because of injuries to Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns, entered Monday's action hitting .289 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs.
His physical abilities have never been questioned, but until this season, the 22-year-old had struggled with big-league pitching.
"[Playing more] has a lot to do with it," Pena said. "This year they're giving me a chance and I'm doing pretty good."
He's been better than that lately.
In 43 games since May 18, Pena is hitting .326 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs.
"He feels more comfortable now," Reds second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez said. "He knows now that he's going to play. He's earned that with the way he's playing. He's learned a lot. I'm proud of him. He's a good friend and I'm happy that he got Player of the Week."
Pena's feelings leaned a little more toward surprise.
"I was blown away," he said. "It's my first time winning one. I feel good."
The reasons for that go beyond an award for the Dominican Republic native.
"Back home, everyone wondered why they didn't play me," he said. "Now they're happy because they get to see me play."
The feeling has been pretty much the same in Cincinnati.
Although Pena isn't sure what the Reds will do once Griffey and Kearns come back from the disabled list, he knows exactly what he'll do with the Torneau watch he'll receive for his standout week.
"I won't wear it," he said. "I'll put it in my house. Then when people ask why, I'll tell them it was for my first Player of the Week award. I hope to get more."
If he keeps hitting like he has, it's a certainty.
Todd Lorenz is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.