DETROIT -- Tony Pena managed parts of four seasons with the Kansas City Royals from 2002-2005. If he got the chance to manage the Red Sox, Pena believes he would better at the job the second time around.
"I'm ready for the challenge, no question," said Pena, who became the second candidate to interview for the Red Sox managerial vacancy Monday. "When you manage the first time and you come around a second time, you have more time to think about it. You have more time to learn. Every day is something new in baseball and you know more, more and more about the game. Right now, I'm better than I was. There's no question about that."
Pena met with the Baseball Operations staff, led by general manager Ben Cherington, for about six hours and said he was "really comfortable," with the process.
"Anytime, whenever you talk about baseball, it's comfortable," said Pena. "It's nothing new to talk about baseball. If you know the game, it should be easy for you. It was six hours but it was a very, very quick six hours because when you're talking about something you love to do, a thing you have passion for, you can talk the whole day, you can talk 24 hours, you can talk the whole year about baseball. That wouldn't bother me at all."
As the bench coach on New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi's staff, Pena has kept his game management skills intact the last four seasons.
"I manage every night," he said before the start of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. "I manage every night, along with Joe. Being a bench coach, I'm involved in the game, I'm involved in the decisions. It's like you're managing. You have to be aware of every single little thing and thank God that I'm working with a guy who keeps me involved in everything."
Still, Pena admits he wants another chance. He interviewed for the Yankees job that eventually went to Girardi and has been a candidate for other jobs.
"You're in the game for a reason," he said. "I'm a baseball man and obviously you want to manage. You don't want to be stuck in the same place. But I'm just the type of person who has a lot of patience. If it comes through, it comes through if not, life keeps going. One thing's for sure: as long as I have that uniform on, I'm going to enjoy myself. I'm going to enjoy every single moment. I'll just wait."
Pena also knows and understands Boston, having played four seasons with the Sox from 1990-1993. That experience would be a benefit, too.
"I know the city well, I know the fans," said Pena. "I played there for four years and I enjoyed every single moment there. But whatever happens, happens. I have no control over that right now. It's in their hands.
"I just want to concentrate on where we are right now. We are in the playoffs and I want to keep my mind right and keep my mind where it should be. Thank God yesterday was an off-day and we had time to relax and time to talk about it. Now, I'll just try to concentrate on where I have to be."
"I think Tony could manage anywhere," said Girardi. "I do. I have that confidence in him and I know how he prepares, and I know how he goes about his business. I think he could manage anywhere."
New York GM Brian Cashman said having coached in a big market like New York would help Pena in Boston -- but only to an extent.
"You'd like to think that, without a doubt, witnessing everything that takes place in a big market (would be beneficial)," said Cashman. "But then, when you take that seat, I don't care who you are, it's different. You could be on the front line as the bench coach in Boston and then replace the manager and it's going to be a huge difference . . . Living it is different than anticipating it."
Having been part of the Yankees staff since 2006, Pena is eminently familiar with the American League East and the Sox themselves.
"There's no question I know that ballcub real well," he said. "Nobody can tell me anything about them (I don't already know) because we have to go through it (18 times per year). We play them so many times each year. I don't know if it's an advantage or not -- depends on how they take things."
A native of the Dominican Republic, Pena is bilingual and as a catcher for 18 seasons, understands pitching.
"When you're a catcher," said Pena, "you have more understanding of the game. You have to be ready for every single pitch. Every pitch means something. You have to be ready for every single pitch that you're going to call. You have to know different people. That gives you an advantage -- when the pitcher has to go, when you have to make changes and things like that. I have to say yes.
"Being a catcher gives you a great idea because you're the only one to have everything in front of you and you have to be aware of everything."