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Pena proving he can thrive off bench in NL

Pena proving he can thrive off bench in NL play video for Pena proving he can thrive off bench in NL

MIAMI -- There was not much fanfare when the Braves signed Ramiro Pena in December. But while filling in for injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Saturday and Sunday, Pena delivered a couple of crucial hits and provided a glimpse of the value he can provide as a bench player in the National League.

"Pena does a [heck of a] job," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I watched him play in Spring Training and I told him -- and it's not his fault -- 'You've missed a lot of money by playing in the American League.' He's so valuable in the National League game."

While serving as a backup infielder for the Yankees during portions of the past four seasons, Pena did not get frequent chances to pinch-hit or enter a game as a defensive replacement during a double-switch. With the designated hitter in place, these opportunities are few and far between for AL bench players.

As a switch-hitter, Pena will likely get plenty of pinch-hit opportunities with the Braves. In addition, his solid glove will put him in position to play any of the infield positions in a late-inning double-switch situation.

Or as he showed while playing shortstop this past weekend, Pena has the ability to deliver in a starting role. His two-run, eighth-inning single fueled the comeback in Saturday's win over the Cubs. He delivered another two-run single that gave the Braves a lead they would not relinquish in Sunday's victory.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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