The Padres announced this afternoon that they signed infielder Ramiro Pena to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Pena played well in a small sample with the Braves in 2013 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but he wasn’t nearly as productive last season. The 29-year-old hit just .245/.304/.347 with three home runs and nine RBI across 81 games with Atlanta and was designated for assignment in November.
The Padres already have a lot of options across their infield, so Pena will serve as insurance at the very least.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson was removed from last night’s game against the Rockies after he threw a tantrum in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse following a strikeout in the second inning.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that pieces of a bat Johnson shattered hit both Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Gerald Laird, who were standing near the dugout steps. Gonzalez had “a few choice words” for Johnson and immediately replaced him with Ramiro Pena at third base.
Johnson said after the game that he apologized to his teammates and understands that he needs to keep his emotions in check.
“I play with a lot of passion,” Johnson said. “Every single pitch and every single at-bat, I hold in high regard. When things don’t go well, that is kind of my downfall. That is one of the biggest parts of my game I need to work on. One of the worst things I could ever do is hurt a teammate or something like that.
“This has to be it for me. I think it will get a point where people won’t think I’m truly sorry for doing it. It just looks selfish.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Johnson has displayed reckless behavior around his teammates. He got into a confrontation with first base coach Terry Pendleton last September after he threw his helmet in frustration and hit Pendleton with it. Johnson was also benched for two games last month after went on a rampage in the dugout.
The struggling Dan Uggla has started just five out of the last nine games at second base for the Braves and Mark Bowman of MLB.com hears that the club will continue to look at alternatives at the position.
While the Braves “have moved away from the thought” of releasing Uggla, they are expected to give playing time to Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky in the next couple of weeks. From there, they could promote prospect infielder Tommy La Stella, who is hitting .306/.368/.333 with a 9/12 K/BB ratio over 30 games at Triple-A Gwinnett. Interestingly, Bowman writes that some of the team’s veteran players would rather see Pastornicky get a chance to run away with the job.
Uggla is batting just .180/.297/.345 over 164 games since the start of last season and is still owed $24 million through the end of 2015. The Braves apparently aren’t comfortable with eating his remaining salary in order to turn the page, but something might have to give soon.