Peña Tried His Best to Mask Shoulder Pain

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

For months, Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden would ask outfielder Wily Mo Peña if he was in pain. Peña said no each time, keeping secret a left shoulder injury that has nagged him for three years.

Peña had surgery Tuesday to repair a partially torn rotator cuff, as well as a tear and fraying of his posterior labrum. Peña, who had repeatedly declined interview requests, yesterday addressed the season-ending injury and his decision to play through it.

"I always trying to be strong," said Peña, who is headed to Florida on Sunday to begin a rehabilitation expected to take four months. "Like if I got hurt, I just want to keep playing, keep playing, keep playing."

Peña, 26, said he's had shoulder pain for years, but it started flaring up this season. He eventually reached a breaking point. Every movement hurt. He couldn't even follow through on his swing with his left hand, needing the strength of both hands to grip the bat. He joined the disabled list July 18. Said Peña, "I don't like to sit around."

Pain has hampered him for much of the season. He tried to remedy the injury with anti-inflammatory medication, but his play reflected the extent of his suffering. In fact, Manager Manny Acta said Peña looked "lost" at the plate. He batted .205 with two home runs in 195 at-bats this season.

"When it get to that point, you can do nothing," Peña said. "It keeps bothering, it gets to that point you have to stop. That's what happened with this. I can't even swing anymore."

Injury Updates

Injured all-star shortstop Cristian Guzmán was not in the starting lineup yesterday. Because of a thumb injury, Guzmán has had difficulty gripping a bat. He will get a precautionary MRI exam of his left thumb today. Approached by reporters after the game last night, Guzmán waved them off and said he was fine. Acta said Guzmán is "just a couple of days away" from playing again. . . .

First baseman Dmitri Young, still struggling to control his diabetes, was not at Nationals Park yesterday. There is no timetable for his return.

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