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Pena focused on earning spot with Angels

Pena focused on earning spot with Angels play video for Pena focused on earning spot with Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Carlos Pena has already made quite an impression in Angels' camp, but the veteran infielder still has plenty of work to do if hopes to break camp with the club at the end of March.

"He's really working hard and you can see the nature of how he can play first base from the defensive end, and I know he's working on some minor adjustments on what his approach is to the plate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has big power and he's still strong. Hopefully, he's going to make those adjustments and compete for a spot."

Pena signed a Minor League deal with the Angels last month and is competing for a spot on the bench with Ian Stewart, John McDonald, Brennan Boesch and Chad Tracy. Pena knows he could serve as Albert Pujols' backup at first base, occasionally start at the position and also pinch-hit against righties for the Angels, but he's not thinking too far ahead.

"I don't occupy my mind with those things at all," he said. "I'm more about being engaged in what is going on and just taking it all in, instead of making formulas of where I would fit because that will take care of itself."

Pena, 35, signed a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Astros last offseason and was released on July 31 after hitting .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 85 games. He later signed with the Royals, but had a season-ending appendectomy in mid-September.

"I just want to be fully engaged in all of my workouts and practices and contribute as much as I can anytime I get an opportunity," Pena said. "That's what I keep my eyes [on]. I feel great and like I have an extra bounce in my step. I'm really enjoying that."

For his career, Pena has a .233 batting average with 285 home runs, 816 RBIs and a .465 slugging percentage with eight teams in parts of 13 seasons.

"This is the team that I felt was right for me," he said. "When I saw the Angels were one of the options, I knew that's where I wanted to go and I dove right in."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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