Former Yankees backup Ramiro Pena hasn’t seen a whole lot of playing time this season as one of the Atlanta Braves’ reserve infielders, but when he has gotten on the field, he’s produced in a big way. In his last 14 games alone, Pena is hitting .406 (13-for-32) with a double, triple, two homers and eight RBI.
ATLANTA — Freed from the American League and the Yankees’ logjam in the infield, Ramiro Pena is showing what he can do getting regular playing time for the Atlanta Braves.
Pena had just 313 at-bats during the past four seasons with the Yankees. That was a function of playing in the AL and playing behind Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano.
Pena, signed by the Braves as a free agent in December, already has 80 at-bats in 40 games this season. In his past 14 games before Monday, Pena was hitting .406 (13-for-32) with a double, a triple, two home runs and eight RBI.
The production has earned Pena more consistent playing time, and he said the two go hand in hand.
“I feel like I’m part of the team pretty much every day,” Pena said this week before the Braves played the Pirates, whom he homered against during the series finale Wednesday as the leadoff batter. “It’s great for me. I feel good. Because as a player, the more often you play, the more often you get better. That’s what you need, as a player, you need to play. If you don’t play it’s tough to get as sharp as you need to be and in a good position.”
Entering the start of this week, Pena had played 67.1 innings at third base, 56 at shortstop and 50.1 at second, according to Baseball Reference. He had no errors in 80 total chances.
“Ramiro is a great utility player,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You can put him anywhere you want in that infield.”
Gonzalez than added: “I feel real, real comfortable with him ... We really appreciate him; we use him. He’s a valuable National League player.”
Pena came up through the Yankees’ system as a shortstop and said he’s comfortable playing at third because batted balls come at him with “the same speed, same rotation, same spin” as at shortstop.
“Second base for me has been a little bit tougher because everything is the other way,” he said. “It seems like backwards. At the beginning it was tough for me to get used to second, but now I feel better.”