CHICAGO -- Bryan LaHair, one of the Cubs' September callups, may have hit 38 homers at Triple-A Iowa and be able to play first base, but manager Mike Quade wants Carlos Pena in the lineup, and the veteran appreciates that.
"You got a guy driving toward 30 home runs, who has been a huge part of this ballclub, both on the field and off the field," Quade said of Pena, who had 28 homers and 79 RBIs entering Saturday. "We need him in the lineup to win ballgames, and he's been a big part of that this year."
Pena has hit at least 30 homers in three of the past four seasons, missing last year with the Rays when he finished with 28. Still, reaching 30 homers isn't a goal Pena voiced to Quade.
"That's not me," Pena said. "I'm more about, 'How many good at-bats can I put together? Let's put together good at-bats today; let's help the ballclub out' It's kind of cool that he's looking out for me. I respect that; that's awesome."
Pena signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs, and isn't sure where he'll be in 2012. Does he think about next season?
"I think about next year all the time, very casually, just because I think about the future," Pena said. "I spend a few minutes dreaming about the best scenarios and putting myself in them, and then I just let it go and come back to the present."
The Cubs aren't going to finish with a winning record this season, and though there are a lot of question marks for next year, Pena wants to return.
"I've said all along, I've enjoyed my time here in Chicago and love the opportunity that it presents to be part of the Cubs," Pena said, "and to be part of that team that does it is very alluring to me.
"Even though we haven't achieved what we want to this year, I feel like it's moving in the right direction. Just to be part of that means a lot to me."