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."

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.