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Pena 'locked in' for Silver Hawks07/05/2013 11:55 PM ET
By Brandon Simes / MiLB.com
Friday was Superhero Night in Fort Wayne, where several players did their best to stick with the theme. No one did a better job than South Bend leadoff hitter Fidel Pena.
Pena drove in a career-high eight runs and fell a double shy of the cycle in the Silver Hawks' 16-10 loss to the TinCaps at Parkview Field.
"It was unbelievable. Holy cow, it was the perfect storm," South Bend manager Mark Haley said. "[Pena's] been swinging it well lately, really getting locked in. I'm happy for him, he's worked hard. He's a repeat guy who's had to battle adversity and worked his butt off."
Pena, who compiled a .679 OPS with South Bend last season -- his first above Rookie level -- had been hitting .188 in July.
"He was chasing out of the zone and getting big with his swing," Haley said. "He was trying to create it yesterday, but he's finally settled in and figured out who he is."
Pena homered and drove in two runs on Thursday, giving him back-to-back multi-RBI games for the first time since the D-backs signed him as a non-drafted free agent in February 2009.
In addition to working on his swing, Pena is adjusting to playing second base full-time. The switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic split time between catcher, second base and designated hitter last season and also has played first, third, shortstop and right field in the Minors. The Diamondbacks decided to keep him in South Bend this season to facilitate the move.
"We had him as a catcher alternating back and forth [to second base] and decided to make him a middle infielder, a second baseman. He has a great swing, so it just worked out that he came here to get things right and he's doing it," Haley said. "He started slow but is working his butt off. Emotionally, he's as stable as they come, a really smart kid, very aware.
"You watch guys like him who are emotionally stable, very focused, don't get too high or too low and are really professional, and they figure it out. Those guys end up in the big leagues."
Haley also said Pena will focus on controlling the strike zone at the plate to continue his success and eventually advance to higher levels.
"It's just pitch selection and maintaining balance and rhythm," the veteran manager said. "He needs to make sure he hits it where it's pitched, zones up pitches, controls at-bats, has a plan at the plate and executes it."
Haley believes that "especially in the National League, [Pena] can play and do almost anything."
"He's always been a pretty damn good infielder, he has good hands and good feet, an idea for the game," he added. "He could probably do anything he puts his mind to. He was a decent catcher, too, just the wear and tear is hard on anybody."
Brandon Drury added three hits, Alex Glenn scored three times and Socrates Brito doubled twice for South Bend.
Fort Wayne got four hits from Maxx Tissenbaum and three apiece from Diego Goris, Corey Adamson and Rodney Daal, who homered twice and drove in six runs. Adamson chipped in a pair of triples as the TinCaps totaled 20 hits, one short of a season high.
Chris Nunn, the only one of 10 pitchers who did not allow a run, struck out two over 1 1/3 innings for his fifth save.