Wily Mo Pena has Japan to thank for revived career

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Former major leaguer Wily Mo Pena is making a name for himself in another country.

Before Pena made his way overseas to play baseball, he played in the United States.

Up and down MLB career

From 2002 to 2011, he bounced from one team to another with his longest stint being in Cincinnati with the Reds from 2002 to 2005. Pena hit 51 of 84 career ML home runs with the Reds.

Pena showcased an incredible surge of raw power. He was a talented hitter but one that couldn’t express it well in the major leagues.

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He had more success in the minors than majors by far and in a stint between 2009 and 2011 he showed that to be true.

In 2010, he had a brief period in the Independent Atlantic League where he played for Bridgeport Bluefish. In 38 games for the Bluefish, the outfielder hit .310 with 8 home runs and 38 runs batted in.

Later that year, Pena signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres and gave himself a chance at redemption in the big leagues.

Prior to the 2011 season, Pena signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was assigned to the minors.

In the minors, he played for the Reno Aces (a Triple-A affiliate of the D-Backs) and by mid-June he hit .356 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs.

His ultimate goal of making it back to the top of the majors was coming true.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last long as Arizona released Pena on July 15 that season. After a short outing with the Seattle Mariners, he opted for free agency.

New Start

This led to Pena starting a fresh in a new country. On November 29, 2011 Pena signed a two-year deal with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Much like Major League Baseball, this league was based in Japan.

Wily certainly did not disappoint in his first season with the Hawks in 2012, when hit .280 with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs.

It does seems as though Pena has found a new home in Japan, but after what is believed to be an injury-riddled season in 2013 he signed a one-year deal with the ORIX Buffaloes.

As of 80 games with the Buffaloes, Pena got back into the swing of things for the 2014 season. In the 80+ games, he is hitting .245 with 21 home runs and 52 runs driven in.

He was named an All-Star for the first time in his professional baseball career. He represented the Buffaloes and Pacific League who played against their counterparts in the Central League.

Japan revival

The All-Star “game” in Japan consists of a two-game series, and Pena played in the second game.

While at-bat, the powerful outfielder hit a mammoth three-run home run as the Pacific League went to defeat the Central League, 12-6.

The distance of his home run clocked in over 400 feet and was sight to see for players and announcers of that game. They were mesmerized by the power Pena had behind his bat.

With Pena doing just fine in Japan, will ever take another crack at coming back to America and hoping the third times a charm phrase works for him?

Japan is a comfort zone for Pena, who in two of three seasons overseas has hit over 20 home runs. He accomplished that feat once in the majors in 2004 when he hit 26 for the Reds.

Could Pena possibly overcome the major league jitters and be a consistent power bat in any lineup? That’s up to Pena unless he lets himself overthink the situation.

Maybe Japan is what Pena needs to have a successful pro baseball career and the pressure of playing baseball in America is too much. Not to mention, baseball is slighter bigger in America than it is in Japan.

A decision made by Wily will have to wait a couple months.

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