KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Carlos Pena is getting another chance to help a team make a playoff run.
The veteran slugger had his contract purchased by the Royals from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday, and he made it to Kansas City in time for their game against the Seattle Mariners. Pena was available off the bench as a left-handed bat or a defensive replacement at first base.
Pena was once among the most feared hitters in the American League, hitting 39 homers during his All-Star season of 2009.
He was a big reason why the Tampa Bay Rays became a playoff contender, and then bounced around with the Cubs and Astros the past couple of years.
He was released by the Astros on July 31 and signed a minor league deal with the Royals a few weeks later, hopeful that he'd get another chance to play in the big leagues.
"There's some awesome memories in Tampa Bay, and here I am trying to make some new ones," Pena said. "I'm a believer that maybe the rest will be the best. I'm still looking forward to good things."
The Royals, who were 4½ games out in the AL wild-card race, are hoping they get the Pena that smashed at least 28 homers five straight seasons — not the guy who hit .209 with a garish strikeout rate during his time with Houston earlier this season.
"Mostly a veteran bat off the bench," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's tough on young kids coming off the bench late in games in crucial situations. Veteran players have a better idea of how to do it and he fits that role real nice."
The Royals made several other roster moves as they bolstered their bullpen and overall depth in pursuit of their first playoff appearance since winning the 1985 World Series.
They recalled pitchers Wade Davis and Louis Coleman from Class A Wilmington, where they were optioned last week, and also recalled left-hander Donnie Joseph and infielder Johnny Giavotella from Triple-A Omaha. Infielder Pedro Ciriaco had his contract purchased from the Storm Chasers.
Kansas City cleared the necessary roster space by designating for assignment outfielder Edinson Rincon, who was at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Left-hander Noel Arguelles was recalled from the same club and placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Pena was the biggest name joining the clubhouse, though. The 35-year-old first baseman was already joking with teammates before Tuesday night's game — he's quite familiar with Davis and James Shields, both former Rays. The rest of the team he knows from having faced them in the past.
He even seemed to relish his chance to play in the minors with Omaha for a few weeks.
"They were making a run for the playoffs and I came in and did everything I could to help out, and we accomplished that goal," Pena said, "and we had a lot of fun doing it."
Now, he's hoping to have more fun with the Royals in the final month of the season.
"I'm just very excited, very grateful for the opportunity to see how I can contribute in any way," Pena said. "It's truly a dream to be a part of the ballclub."