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Peņa coming to grips with pace of his rehab

Wily Mo Peña told the doctors who performed the operation on his hamate bone that they could throw it away after taking it out.

Considering his wrist had been nagging the Red Sox outfielder for about a year, he knew he was better off without the hamate.

He did, however, save the pictures.

The bone is so small it's actually useless. But to Peña, ``that thing was big. I looked at the picture and said, `Whoa.' "

He plans to save the picture and show his mother the next time he goes home to the Dominican Republic.

Peña, who had ignored the pain since last August before finally having surgery June 1, said, ``Every time I'd do something, every time I'd throw or something, it would hurt.

``It [happened] a lot. I couldn't even grab a bat or a glove. I couldn't even catch."

Of the hamate bone, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, ``It's amazing, really. It has an unbelievable ability to get in the way when it's in there. But when it's healed, it's like you never knew it was gone."

After biding his time on the disabled list, Pena finally got a chance to get on the field at Fenway again Monday, doing some work before the Sox' first game against the Nationals.

``It feels exactly the same," he said. ``I just told them if I don't have to have [the hamate], then they can take it out."

He's also been taking his cuts in the batting cage, hitting off a tee along with a little soft toss. But for the most part, his workout consists of flexing 8-pound weights and squeezing stressballs.

All the tape around his wrist makes his hand look like a club, but he says it's not nearly as strong as one.

``It's just weak right now," he said.

``They keep saying you just have to keep your hand strong."

His goal is to be able to take batting practice before the end of the homestand. ``That may be a little ambitious," said Francona.

Jose Canseco, Eric Hinske, and Jim Thome are among the players who have had a hamate bone removed.

The list also includes Sox slugger David Ortiz, who had the surgery in 1998.

``Now you see how he's doing," Peña said.

The original timetable for Peña's return was two months, but he said he doesn't have a date yet.

``I want to be in right now, but I can't," he said.

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