Pena placed in Nationals starting lineup

Updated: August 18, 2007, 7:55 PM ET
Associated Press

Wily Mo Pena

Pena

WASHINGTON -- Wily Mo Pena joined the Washington Nationals on Saturday, eager to get some regular playing time and not intimidated by the reputation of RFK Stadium as a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

"Everybody tells me it's big," said Pena, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Friday with cash considerations for a player to be named. "But when you've got some pop, it's not too big."

Manager Manny Acta immediately placed the right-handed hitting Pena in the starting lineup, batting him sixth against Mets left-hander Oliver Perez and playing left field. Pena hit .218 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 73 games with Boston.

"We need to get him some at-bats," Acta said. "When guys are bench players in the American League, you don't have the luxury to pinch-hit them almost every day like we do in the National League."

Pena will platoon in left with Ryan Church, Acta said, although that plan may change.

"Having Wily here gives us flexibility. ... If we give [Austin] Kearns a day off, we can put [Pena] in right or we can put him in center," Acta said.

Pena, a target of Nationals general manager Jim Bowden for three years before Friday's deal, is reunited with the GM who ran the Cincinnati Reds, where Pena enjoyed his most productive seasons. Twenty-six of his 67 career homers came in 2004 for the Reds.

Among Pena's teammates during his tenure in Cincinnati from 2002-05 were current Nationals Kearns, D'Angelo Jimenez, Felipe Lopez and Dmitri Young. Acta also managed Pena on the Dominican entry in the World Baseball Classic in 2006.

"I just need the opportunity to play every day," said Pena. "I can't tell you I'll do this, this, this. That's not me. ... But if I can't play every day, I can't put up numbers."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press