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updated: 2/17/2011 6:05 PM

Cubs' Pena not looking in the past

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  • New Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena says last year's hitting slump is in the past and he's working hard to not take any added pressure with him into the batting box this season.

       New Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena says last year's hitting slump is in the past and he's working hard to not take any added pressure with him into the batting box this season.
    Bruce Miles | Staff Photographer

  • Cubs third baseman Scott Moore, a nonroster player, gets in some work Thursday at Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz.

       Cubs third baseman Scott Moore, a nonroster player, gets in some work Thursday at Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz.
    Bruce Miles | Staff Photographer

 
 

MESA, Ariz. -- First baseman Carlos Pena arrived at Cubs camp a day early Thursday. Although he knows it's going to be difficult to live down his .196 batting average last year with Tampa Bay, he said he doesn't want it to define him.

"I definitely want to improve all my numbers," said Pena, who hit 28 homers and drove in 84 a year ago. "The emphasis is on the batting average because last year was so difficult for me in that category. At the same time, I understand that's not me. It doesn't represent me.

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"It wouldn't be intelligent on my part to carry that piece of luggage on my back, that batting average, to carry it around and let it be the number that identifies me. It's not even an issue for me. That's in the past. That's not me. I've pretty much erased that out of my mind."

Pena worked out in the batting cage and at first base Thursday, and he not setting any numerical goals for 2011.

"I want to be me," he said. "Sometimes when you put number goals, you might actually be putting a limit on yourself. I don't want to limit myself. At the same time, I don't want to put pressure on myself. My goal is to make sure I stay committed to my plan every single day and make sure that I come out and play with all that I've got every single day, with all my energy and enthusiasm and just leave it all on the field on a daily basis. At the end of the day, I look in the mirror and I say, 'Hey, you gave it all you had.'

"That's a good day. When you pack 162 of those days, one on top of each other, you should look at your stats and be very happy."

Earning their keep:

Position players are scheduled to report Friday and work out formally for the first time Saturday. Even though many players already are here, the Cubs still await the arrivals of Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro from the Dominican Republic.

Manager Mike Quade was asked if Soriano would have to "earn" his playing time. Soriano is beginning the second half of his eight-year, $136 million contract.

"Certain veterans have established that they're front-runners for the deal," Quade said. "We're all responsible for our performance. But you expect Soriano to be an important part of this group, as we do all of them. I'd like to think you'll see an even better Sori than we did the last two years and he'll be a pillar, if you will.

"We're going to need some people to come back. We're going to need Rami (Aramis Ramirez) to have a big year, Sori would help, Marlon (Byrd) to have another good year. There's going to be some people who have to improve off of last year for us to do well, and that's just a few names. The fact that they've done it before and they're capable of it, keeps me very optimistic."

This and that:

Reliever Robert Coello, obtained this week in a trade from Boston, arrived and took part in throwing drills… Looking impressive was nonroster pitcher Trey McNutt, who is 13-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 38 games in two minor-league seasons. A 32nd-round pick in 2009, McNutt could get a call-up this year if he pitches well in the minors to start the season.

• Follow Bruce's Cubs reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112, and join the conversation on our Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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