Brayan Pena waited a long time for his chance to manage in West Michigan.
The former Major League catcher was supposed to be the team's skipper in 2020, but that season never happened.
Pena speaks often about his joy for the position he is in, and that is anything but coach speak.
"I am super, super happy for this opportunity because I never take it for granted," Pena said. "My people in Cuba are struggling, they are suffering right now. Our Cuban government is beating our people, they are making our people's life really miserable and for me to have an opportunity to enjoy freedom and for me to have an opportunity to be in this great country and doing what I love, that is priceless."
When meeting with the media prior to the season, Pena asked us how we thought his English was.
He has worked very hard to be bilingual because he feels it makes him a better manager.
"It is all about our players feeling comfortable," Pena said. "It is all about our players to go out there every single day and enjoy what they do. "I am very humble about this opportunity, but I have to continue to work, I have to continue to get better and learning English is part of that."
The Tigers currently have a lot of young talent in their farm system, working with those players is not a responsibility that Pena takes lightly.
"Our organization is in a pretty good position because we have great young talent, and I am very happy and very excited to be part of this great organization."
While the Whitecaps are hovering just below the .500 mark for the season, Pena understands that it is not wins and losses that evaluate progress.
11 Whitecaps players have gotten the call to double A Erie so far this season.
"One of the things that I have really enjoyed every time that we see a baseball player that came to our hands and go to the next level and that is what we want, that's our goal."
Pena said he does not have dreams of managing in the big leagues someday, but that he is content working with the young players that come through LMCU Ballpark.