Wily and Miggie talk hitting

Wily Mo Pena told me he and Miguel Tejada have talked hitting for years. The two often chatted when playing in the American League (Red Sox and Orioles respectively). They even played together on a team back in their homeland of the Dominican Republic.

“He told me to hit it the other way,” Pena noted after he lined out to Tejada on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

“The advice I tell him is he’s so strong and he should use his hands,” Tejada explained to me yesterday during batting practice. “He needs to focus on making contact and the power will be there.”

That’s exactly what Nats hitting coach Lenny Harris has been preaching to the Nats slugger all season.

Wily was sporting some extra bling on the bus ride back to the hotel Tuesday night. He showed me his 2007 Red Sox World Series ring. It was shipped to D.C. last week. Wily Mo keeps in touch with former Boston teammate David Ortiz and the two caught up in person several times during the Mets series in New York since the Sox were playing the Yankees. Ortiz is an inspiration to Wily Mo; after all, he was dumped by the Twins who thought he was not going to be able to hit at the big league level. Boston picked him up at the urging of then ace Pedro Martinez. Now Wily Mo hopes he can be like Ortiz and rejuvenate his career with the Nats.

Lefty is Alright in the Pen

Nats left hander Matt Chico is looking at his demotion to the bullpen as a second chance. He told me yesterday this is an opportunity for him to work on some things and get back on track. He said it’s another challenge and he’ll do his best. He also admitted the atmosphere will be different for him in the bullpen.

“It’ll be a little weird when the phone rings and I’m coming into the game,” Chico said. “I’ll watch and observe [the other relievers] and adjust to when to stretch and when to move,”

This is the first time at any level Chico has pitched in relief.

Nats Pitching In

Coming to the ballpark four hours early to give a clinic to more than 150 kids was not a problem for Tim Tolman and the rest of the coaching staff during the last home stand. Tolman said if their message of opportunity could touch any of the kids it was well worth sacrificing a few hours. The kids were from the DC RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) and they learned about pitching, hitting, fielding and base running from some of the best coaches in the business.