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Sports

October 4, 2006

Pena:'I am always going to cherish my time here'

On Baseball

Rob Bradford

BOSTON - Not a single player could be found within the abandoned Red Sox clubhouse, yet it was Carlos Pena's locker which stood out.

It was the day after Boston's season had come to a close and most of the players were long gone, having boxed up their belongings and headed into the offseason. In front of Pena's cubicle, however, there was something hard to miss - a pile of memories.

Lying on the floor was a stack of clothes and other baseball-related articles, all collected through the 36 days Pena spent in a Red Sox uniform.

"It has been an unbelievable experience," Pena said immediately after Boston's season finale Sunday night. "I'm going to take all of this stuff and cherish it. I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know that the time I got to wear the uniform of the Boston Red Sox was unbelievable."

Later Monday, after Pena's memorabilia had been shipped out of Fenway Park, the goosebumps from his stint as a Red Sox player were still present on his trip back home - Haverhill - where the former Hillies star got the opportunity to reflect at his parents' house.

Memories and memorabilia aside, the short drive to Haverhill was the final payoff for what has been the Pena family's wild month-long ride.

"It was an amazing experience," said Carlos' father, Felipe Pena. "We hadn't had an opportunity to sit down with him for a month, but he came here (Monday night), sat down for three or four hours, and left here about two o'clock (in the morning). He has been playing for so many years, but he was never able to stop by like that because it was just too difficult."

Yesterday, the dream of living the life of a Red Sox player was put on hold as Pena left for his home in Orlando, Fla. After spending some time there, the six-year big leaguer will then jet down to the Dominican Republic, where Pena will whittle away the winter as a member of the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League.

While with Licey (which will also employ Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez), he will use his time to develop his skills as an outfielder, waiting for his agent, Scott Boras, to pass along any news on the Red Sox's interest in him for 2007.

"I hope they bring me back, but even if it doesn't work out I am always going to cherish my time here," Pena said. "I made sure the whole time I was here I took in everything, whether it was listening to David (Ortiz) talk about hitting, putting on a Boston Red Sox uniform or just coming to the park. It has been such a thrill for me."

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