By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE Wily Mo Pena will always be the hulking reminder of a Theo Epstein trade that never quite panned out.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-handed slugger was always something of a tease, given that his athletic combination of physical strength and speed were unrivaled in the big leagues when he first came up with the Cincinnati Reds system.
Epstein was intrigued by the prospects of Pena turning into a home-run hitting monster at Fenway Park, and dealt crooning right-hander Bronson Arroyo to the Reds in exchange for the pile of baseball potential.
Unfortunately, Pena never fully developed offensively -- he had, and has, exploitable weaknesses at the plate -- and his outfield defense wasis a disaster, making him a natural for the designated-hitter role. The problem in Boston, of course, is that David Ortiz is the DH.
So, after nearly two full seasons and just about 500 at-bats, Epstein admitted his mistake and sent Pena to the Washington Nationals in August 2007. Wily Mo has kicked around the big leagues ever sunce, getting playing time with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, and he popped up with Seattle on Saturday night after Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured nose suffered on a bad-hop ground ball Friday.
While Pena will be remembered more for untapped potential than anything else during his time in Boston, manager Terry Francona clearly remembers Pena's prodigious power.
Its silly . . . Wily Mos power is off the charts, said Francona. Oh, boy . . . some of the home runs he hit. He hit a ball in Baltimore . . . it won the game for us . . . It was a day when the wind was blowing and I couldn't imagine someone hitting a home run that day.
As always, Pena, now 29, put on a display during batting practice, and he exchanged hugs with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and other members of the Sox that were around during his time in Boston.
But during the game he also looked like his normal self, showing an inability to consistently hit the breaking stuff while going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Seattles 5-4 win at Safeco Field.
Josh Beckett has recorded at least one strikeout in each of his 272 career games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Red Sox 1986 postseason hero Dave Henderson made the rounds in the Safeco Field press box during Saturday nights game with his trademark smile and sense of humor. Henderson does television and radio for the Mariners, the team that traded him to Boston in the summer of '86.
Francona was ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger in the top of the fourth inning after the umpiring crew overturned a Jacoby Ellsbury play at the plate they originally called safe. A run was put on the board when Ripperger ruled that catcher Josh Bard didnt hang on to Ichiro Suzukis throw from right field as Ellsbury attempted to score, but, after a conference among the crew, they called Ellsbury out and took the run away.
Replays showed that Bard -- who caught a knee to the face in the collision with Ellsbury -- didn't drop the ball, but was transfering it from the glove to his bare hand to show he had possession. Ellsbury said after the game he thought he was out.
Francona, who said he knew hed be ejected the minute he stormed onto the field, never got an explanation as to why the call was changed.
I wasnt even really listening, said Francona, who seemed to know that replays showed Ellsbury was out. I think the umpire thought he was looking in the glove and the ball was in his hand. I just couldnt understand why the home-plate ump couldnt explain it to me. It was his call. Theyre so protective of the young guys. If the ump has an ability to make the call, then explain the call to me.
It was Franconas 33rd career ejection and his fourth this season.
It looked like Bard held onto the ball during the tag and he pulled out his bare hand to show it, said Ellsbury. From my angle it looked like the ump got the call right, you know?