Pregame notes: Catching up with Wily Mo

August, 13, 2011
SEATTLE -- There’s a little piece of the Boston Red Sox that never is far from Wily Mo Pena.

So when he showed up in Seattle on Saturday night, newly recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, he had it with him -- the World Series ring he won with the Sox back in 2007.

"I take the ring with me everywhere I go; it’s that special to me,’’ Pena said before the game.

He doesn’t always wear it, mind you -- it fits on the same finger as his wedding ring.

"But sometimes my wife will let me take [the wedding ring] off so I can wear it,’’ Pena said, breaking into a big smile.

Speaking of big smiles, one adorned the face of David Ortiz upon the news that Pena was back in the big leagues. The two Dominican sluggers are longtime friends and keep in touch with texts and phone calls.

"That’s great,’’ Ortiz said of Pena’s return. "That’s my little brother right there.’’

Boston manager Terry Francona had Pena for parts of the 2006 and 2007 seasons when Pena hit 16 homers and drove in 59 runs as an outfielder and occasional Boston DH.

"Not many guys have Wily Mo Pena’s power,’’ Francona said. "That’s silly. His power is off the charts.’’

Francona recalled a Pena homer in Baltimore with the wind blowing in when "I thought no ball was going out,’’ as well as a shot into the concession stands in Kansas City. Both shots stood out for their sheer virtuosity.

"He had great power,’’ Francona said. "But there are the other things.’’

Although Francona didn’t spell it out, one of the other things was Pena’s strikeout total -- 679 in 2,241 career at-bats.

-- For the second straight game, there was no Kevin Youkilis in the Boston lineup. The third baseman is dealing with back problems and Francona wants to make sure a little problem doesn’t become a big one.

Youkilis is "still a little sore,’’ the manager said.

"I think he was hoping he’d wake up today and feel a little better,’’ Francona said, "and he didn’t.’’

Marco Scutaro, who missed Friday’s game with back issues of his own, was in the starting lineup, although the Red Sox wanted to see him go through pregame workouts before signing off on his ability to move back in at shortstop.

-- Sunday's starter Tim Wakefield is making his fourth start in quest of his 200th career win. He’s making the start against the same team he notched his 199th against, the Mariners, although it should be pointed out he won that July 24 game despite allowing seven runs in 6.1 innings.

He’s actually pitched better in his three no-decisions, owning a 3.92 ERA in the three games, two of which the Red Sox won.

Francona said he didn’t see Wakefield pressing any more than might be expected.

"I’m sure he’d like to get it over,’’ the manager said. "The last three games, it’s been one pitch or one batter and the outcome is different or who gets the win is different.’’

And while the manager said he would like nothing better than to see his players achieve personal goals, "that can’t be in my mind.’’

"If it was, it wouldn’t be fair to the team,’’ Francona said. "These are things that have to happen in the normal course of events.’’

-- J.D. Drew took about three dozen swings in batting practice and will take at least that many in the batting cages before Sunday’s game. At that point the Red Sox will make another call on just how close Drew (left shoulder impingement) is to being ready to return.



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