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Monday, April 2, 2012

WHY THE TONY PENA CONNECTION RUNS DEEP

Tony Pena was a great catcher back in the day and I remember him fondly with the Pirates and Cardinals, he was able to call a game better than anyone. I know this because I’m old enough to have watched him play. I remember defensively he was bad ass and he clearly had a great baseball mind. His squat behind the plate was unusual, and I remember kids trying to impersonate it in Little League. It was always fascinated to me with just how quickly he could jump out from behind the plate and nail his opponent. He was one of a kind.

I love that he’s part of the Yankees coaching team and in the end, he’s got more clout and respect in the major leagues than many of the other guys these days. That’s because he’s coached and mentored so many of them for so many years.

I loved the story last year about how Tony Pena was the guy that pushed for the Yankees Bartolo Colon get signed and then suddenly Colon was mowing them down again for a bit in the Bronx. It was Tony’s connection with Bartolo from when he coached him in the Dominican Republic and that helped cement that deal, Read HERE. The Pena connection runs deep and what's even better is that respect. People know that Pena knows what he's talking about. Pena vouched for Colon and it all worked out.

I bring this up because I found this quote from Raul Ibanez from right before Spring Training began this season. I'm not sure how I missed it. As you know, before the Yankees, Raul played for the Philles and before that he played for the Seattle Mariners. Before that, it was the Kansas City Royals…when Tony Pena was his manager. Raul Ibanez said of his recent signing with the New York Yankees… “if it wasn’t for Tony, I wouldn’t be here right now.” Read that HERE. You want to talk about respect? That's respect. You’ve got to love baseball friendships… playing with a guy for 162 games give you a closeness like no other. I think about Derek Jeter and Joe Torre the same way but there are a million examples.

We're very lucky to have a guy like Tony Pena in our dugout ever night. Much respect Tony, you are the man!

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