Pena Ready To Go

Francisco Pena is ready to start his career

Francisco Pena, the Mets' big-ticket International free agent signing last year and the son of former big leaguer Tony Pena, has been working hard on his defensive game in St. Lucie as he gears up to officially begin his professional career this season and he says he is ready to go.

"I just worked hard on getting my legs strong," Francisco Pena said of his offseason workout plan. "I was working on catching with my dad over in the Dominican Republic. I came over here to Spring Training to work a lot on just my catching."

In Mets' camp since nearly Valentine's Day, he says he is happy with the development of his defensive game behind the plate and he isn't worried about his future success in the batter's box.

"I'm just going to go, do my job, and just have some fun," he said of what he wants to work on in 2007, "because I believe if you're just going to be thinking a lot [about what to work on], you're going to be so exhausted. I think if you don't think so much, it's going to go pretty good, just have some fun."

Relaxed in his approach and in the expectations he puts on himself, Pena says he doesn't feel the pressure of being a big International signing or of being the son of a former big league great behind the plate.

"I just want to help the team," he said of his goals for his professional debut season. '"It doesn't matter [what he does individually]. I just want to get more experience. I know as I get older I'll get more experience but the only one who knows what will happen is God, that's the only one who knows."

He refuses to put any individual expectations on himself and just focuses his attention on being a team player. With a little more than a week left in Spring Training, the picture is becoming a little clearer which team he will be playing for this upcoming season.

"I'm practicing now with the Savannah team, but I don't know where I'll be going," he revealed. "Right now I'm just doing my job and I'll go where they send me."

Saying and doing all the right things in camp, many Mets' insiders believe Pena will in fact make his professional debut as the catcher for the Mets' new South Atlantic League affiliate - the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Skipping the short-season leagues entirely and beginning his professional career in the South Atlantic League is a significant jump for anybody, especially for a 17-year old catcher from another country, but Pena says he is ready to handle anything thrown his way.

"I think I've learned a lot and I think I'm ready to go," he confidently told us. "I've been playing in games already. I caught six innings in my first game and four innings in my second game and it was pretty good. I'm just having some fun over here in Spring Training."

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