WASHINGTON -- After the Red Sox traded him to the Nationals on Aug. 17, 2007, left fielder Wily Mo Pena was impressive during the final six weeks of the season, hitting .293 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs.
Even more impressive was the fact that Pena displayed his speed with his share of infield hits. After the season ended, Pena called general manager Jim Bowden and vowed that he would have an even better year in 2008.
Entering play Monday, Pena is having the roughest year of his career, hitting .209 with one home run and eight RBIs. Projected to be the everyday left fielder entering the season, Pena is now starting against only left-handed pitchers.
Pena said health is not an issue, but he is stumped as far as what is wrong with his swing. He is looking at tapes from last year on a daily basis, and everybody from hitting coach Lenny Harris to assistant general manager Bob Boone is trying to help him. On Sunday, for example, Boone told Pena not to think too much at the plate. Instead, he told Pena to just see the ball and hit it.
"I wish I knew so I could find out," Pena said. "That's why we are working hard and watching a lot of video. That's what we are trying to find out, especially me. I'm trying to do the best that I can. It's not over. We have a lot of games to play."
Pena acknowledged the slump is bothering him, and he wants to make major contributions to the team.
"I just want to do the best for the team," Pena said. "When things are not coming around, you are thinking a lot. I want to help the team to win and go to the next level. Right now, it's not coming true."
Don't look for the Nationals to make a roster move regarding Pena anytime soon, according to a baseball source. Pena is out of options, and the team is not going to give up on him because of his potential to hit a lot of home runs and drive in a lot of runs.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.