Pena makes noise with his glove instead of bat with Gold Glove

Published 1:11 am Friday, November 7, 2008

Carlos Pena grabbed attention for all those balls he hit. Now the Tampa Bay first baseman and his teammates are getting noticed for the ones he caught.

Pena raised the Rays’ profile Thursday when he become the first player in franchise history to win the Gold Glove for fielding excellence.

‘‘I think this is the first of many for the Tampa Bay Rays,’’ he said on a conference call.

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‘‘I feel like we all won the Gold Glove as a team,’’ he added. ‘‘I think we all make each other better.’’

The Rays reached the playoffs for the first time since starting play in 1998. They went to the World Series, losing in five games to Philadelphia.

Texas shortstop Michael Young became the first infielder to win a Gold Glove from a team with the worst fielding percentage in the majors. Pena, Young, Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer were first-time winners.

The outfield was a repeat from last season: Los Angeles’ Torii Hunter and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki each won for the eighth straight year and Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore earned his second award.

New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, coming off his first 20-win season, added to his accolades with his seventh Gold Glove. Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre won for the second straight year.

Pena bounced around the majors for several seasons before joining Tampa Bay in 2007, and quickly got a regular spot by hitting 46 home runs.

Pena starred with the bat this year, too, with 31 homers and 102 RBIs despite missing 3 1/2 weeks because of a broken finger. He sparkled with the glove, making only two errors.

‘‘I can’t deny that I like hitting home runs,’’ Pena said, but ‘‘this is an award I always thought of.’’