Cubs show Pena still in their plans


ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs' 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday was really secondary to the statement general manager Jim Hendry made about the future and the players he still has on the 25-man roster.

Although there was interest in first baseman Carlos Pena at the deadline, the Cubs chose to hang on to their first baseman rather than settle on some iffy prospects in return.

"I'd rather have someone really working toward our common goal [a World Series] instead of doing something just for show," Pena said about Hendry. "Jim is not like that. He's not trying to look like he is working. He is working!"

Pena, who signed a $10 million contract with the Cubs in December, has brought with him an ability to relate to all his teammates and take on a leadership role on and off the field. Still some feel the Cubs need more help in that area.

"I don't think so," Pena said. "Leadership is used very loosely sometimes. You don't just wake up and say 'Hey, I'm going to be a leader.' It's earned, it's something your teammates just gravitate to. No one goes out there and says 'I want to be a leader.' At the end of it all we can all be leaders by playing the game the right way, by preparing well and by being good teammates. It's about doing things you might not feel up to but you do it anyways. I think 25 of us can be leaders, but you have to let it happen naturally."

Pena was asked to define what he considers the perfect leader.

"He is someone who is selfless and looks out for his team even if things aren't going well for him. Your thinking should be what service you can do for the team rather than what the team can do for me. And you do that every single day. It's important for you to do that and think your teammates are No. 1. If you are selfless you become a better player."

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the main player in trade talks for Pena. But it appeared Hendry and his staff made a decision that they will hold on to Pena for a couple of reasons. If Albert Pujols stays in St. Louis and Prince Fielder signs elsewhere, Pena would be coveted as the next-best first baseman on the free-agent market. The Cubs would be hard-pressed to bring in someone with Pena's ability and intangibles.

Besides, how can you not like a guy who gives verbal praise to his bats like Serrano of "Major League" fame as part of Sunday's pregame routine?