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06/18/08 9:20 PM ET

Pena off to rough start for Nationals

Outfielder struggling, sits for second straight game

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nationals outfielder Wily Mo Pena didn't start in his second consecutive game due to a lack of performance, which has the team baffled.

Pena is not displaying the power and speed that made him productive last year. Entering Wednesday's game, Pena is hitting .205 with one home run and eight RBIs in 151 at-bats. Pena hit well in batting practice, but it doesn't seem to be translating into game action.

"I really can't come up with an answer," manager Manny Acta said. "He came out of Spring Training hurt, [but] he has come up here and has had his at-bats. Things are not working for him. He is working very hard. I tried to tell him to relax. He can't get out of the slump in one game."

Not even hitting coach Lenny Harris can figure out why Pena can't take his batting practice swings into games. Last year, Harris was credited for giving Pena the confidence to hit the ball to right field. Pena was known as a dead-pull hitter before coming to the Nationals.

"I'm waiting to see the same thing," said Harris referring to Pena's power. "He just hasn't been consistent this year. He hasn't stopped working hard. Sometimes, it's like that. I told him I had a year like that before, so I told him don't fight it."

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