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Sports

April 29, 2013

Haverhill's Pena: 'I would like to play till I'm 40'

Despite playing for Astros, ex-Hillie star stays positive

BOSTON — Carlos Pena’s offensive production has declined significantly the past few years.

The Haverhill High and Northeastern product batted just .197 with a .330 on-base percentage, .354 slugging percentage and .684 OPS in 160 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last year.

But he remains the same Carlos Pena ... still positive.

Now with the last-place Houston Astros, he still always has a smile on his face. He still almost always is joking with teammates in the clubhouse. He’s still taking extra swings in the cage before batting practice. He still considers himself more of an older brother to the younger players than a leader.

And Pena, who will turn 35 on May 17, still is confident he can increase the average, power and on-base percentage.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said about his stats in recent years. “But it’s part of the journey. It’s part of the battle to be defeated and to get back up again, to be defeated and to get back up again, to be defeated and to get back up again.

“I’ve been knocked down many times,” he added. “I’m not afraid to get knocked down so I show up again. Yeah, punch me again. You want to? Let’s go. To have that type of courage is something I take pride in.”

Pena entered yesterday batting .188 with a .301 OBP, .325 slugging percentage and .626 OPS in his first 80 at-bats.

But with a 2-for-3 day, including a walk in a 6-1 Houston loss to the Red Sox yesterday afternoon here at Fenway Park, the former Haverhill High star increased his average to .205 and his on-base percentage to .320.

He never has consistently batted for a high average. He’s just a career .233 hitter. His value since 2007 has come in his home run production, high on-base percentage and Gold Glove defense at first base.

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