"He's a middle of the lineup guy," Cubs manager Mike Quade said Wednesday after first baseman Carlos Pena had agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the team. "He gives you a nice left-right mix. That should help late in the game when people are trying to match up against you.
"He's obviously a huge threat that people will be real careful with, and whether it's protecting Marlon [Byrd] or [Aramis Ramirez] or [Alfonso Soriano], we'll see how that plays out," he said.
Last season, Pena primarily batted fifth with the Rays but also hit third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth. In his career, he's primarily hit either fifth (981 at-bats) or fourth (978 at-bats).
Quade said it's too early for him to be thinking about lineups. Plus, the Cubs have some other issues to address.
"Someone asked, 'Who's your leadoff guy?' and I'm not sure about that," Quade said. "There's nine guys, but we should probably start with the one-hole."
Last season, Quade wasn't afraid to experiment and inserted Jeff Baker into the leadoff spot against left-handers. The Cubs do have their share of right-handed hitters in Byrd, Ramirez and Soriano, but can use Pena, Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome to mix things up.
Quade and Pena were together in Oakland in 2002 when Quade was the A's first-base coach.
"That's kind of cool, because you go around full circle," Pena said. "I was very excited to see that he was going to be my manager. I know he's hungry and so pumped up and looking forward to great things.
"I couldn't imagine a better scenario for me as far as getting a fresh start in a place like Chicago with a skipper who is extremely hungry and looking forward to bringing the city of Chicago a championship," Pena said.
Does Pena have a preference as to where he'd like to hit?
"I know our manager is extremely smart and he'll be able to put it together to the best of his ability, and I'm sure wherever he puts me in the lineup, I'll do the best I can," Pena said.
"The more contact he makes, the power numbers will go up, obviously, and the fact that he and our hitting coach have a relationship, there's lots of positives there to build on as far as him having a good year," Quade said of Cubs coach Rudy Jaramillo, who worked with Pena in Texas. "Those 368-[foot] gaps in Wrigley are pretty inviting. We all know in April and May the wind will blow in some."
Pena does have a career .218 average against left-handers, .251 against right-handers. Expect him to get a day off against certain southpaws. There will be no platoon situation, though.
"He's the first baseman, and that's that," Quade said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.