Friday, June 3, 2016

Oriole #1012- Francisco Pena

Last night's Orioles game featured two players making their debuts for the team. It's pretty rare for multiple debuts to occur in the same game other than at the beginning of the season in April or around the beginning of September, once the call-ups occur due to the expanded roster. One of the debuts, I was prepared for, while the other caught me relatively off-guard. In large part thanks to my dad, I was fully ready for Francisco Pena's Orioles debut. Not only did my dad produce his ubiquitous Old Man Cards, but he actually got three of these signed at Spring Training before I even arrived in Sarasota!

It seems like the Orioles generally pay a large amount of attention to the catching depth throughout the organization, so it's no surprise to see them sign a few extra catchers during the offseason. The O's purchased Francisco's contract from the Royals on December 2nd, and added him to their 40 man roster. He had played in nine games for Kansas City during the 2014 &'15 seasons, and was mostly known for his skills as a defensive catcher, which is something highly valued by the O's. 

The Orioles recalled Francisco from AAA Norfolk this past Tuesday after Caleb Joseph suffered a "testicular injury" (retching sounds) during Monday's game. He made his Orioles debut yesterday against the Red Sox and didn't disappoint. He kept Ubaldo's head screwed on tightly for the first five innings, quite and accomplishment given his recent performance on the mound, and went 2-4 with a HR, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI. It was his first MLB home run, so it was a nice night all around for him. Not to mention that he caught the only runner attempting a steal against him to top it all off.

Baseball runs in Francisco's veins, as his dad is long-time MLB catcher Tony Pena, who played 18 seasons in the majors from 1980-97, mostly with the Pirates and Red Sox. In a cool twist to this story, his dad is currently the first base coach for the Yankees, who arrived in town last night ahead of their three game series with the Orioles this weekend, so father and son will likely take the same field at some point this weekend.

Good luck Francisco, keep up the great work as an Oriole! Although I don't expect you to hit a homer every game!

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