Pena, Boesch strike Minors deals with Angels
Veteran left-handed hitters will compete for bench role at Spring Training
ANAHEIM -- The Angels agreed to terms Tuesday on Minor League contracts with first baseman Carlos Pena and outfielder Brennan Boesch, two veteran left-handed hitters who will compete for a spot off the bench this spring.
Pena, 35, signed a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Astros last offseason and batted .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 85 games before he was released on July 31. He signed with the Royals in late August, but had a season-ending appendectomy in mid-September and became a free agent at season's end.
Pena, who is a solid defensive first baseman, was a dangerous power hitter while in his prime with the Rays, and he has always showed a propensity for drawing walks. He was an All-Star in 2009, finished ninth in American League Most Valuable Player voting in '07 and '08 and has a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award in his mantle.
From 2007-12, Pena posted a .229/.360/.480 slash line while averaging 32 homers and 91 RBIs per season.
On the Angels, he could serve as a backup to Albert Pujols, occasionally playing first base so Pujols could DH and also pinch-hitting against righties. Pena has a career .848 OPS against right-handers and a .728 OPS against left-handers.
Boesch, 28, was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and attended high school in Studio City before going to UC Berkeley. A third-round Draft pick by the Tigers in 2006, Boesch compiled 380 Major League games from 2010-12, batting .259/.315/.414 with 42 homers and 175 RBIs.
Late in Spring Training last year, the Tigers gave Boesch his unconditional release because he couldn't win a job in their crowded outfield and they couldn't find a trade partner. He signed with the Yankees shortly thereafter, batted .275 (14-for-51) in 23 games, battled a shoulder injury and was released on July 19.
Boesch has played 266 Major League games in right field and 101 in left.
Two of the Angels' four bench spots appear to be solidified, with the platoon of Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta taking one spot and outfielder J.B. Shuck filling the other. For now, Andrew Romine and John McDonald are set to compete for the utility-infield spot, while the last spot seems be wide open. Pena, Boesch, third baseman Ian Stewart, infielder Grant Green and outfielder Collin Cowgill are among the candidates.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.