Pena wants another chance, 'ready for challenge' as manager

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Pena wants another chance, 'ready for challenge' as manager

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."

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.