Update: Unfortunately, Pena will not be able to follow through on his intention to join the military. His contract with the Cardinals prohibits it:

Pena means well, and while he won't be able enlist, he will still be able to help troops in a different way. Good for him.

Story: Here's some surprising news from Cardinals backup catcher Brayan Pena ...

To emphasize: Pena says he's joining the Army Reserve after the 2016 season.

Pena's 34 and in his 12th major-league season. After this season, he'll have made almost $9 million in career salary, so presumably this is not a desperate search for a second career. Pena's also under contract with St. Louis for 2017.

Anyhow, Pena is a Cuban native who defected to the U.S. at the age of 16 (he originally signed with the Braves at the age of 18). This is certainly a bold and challenging step for someone in Pena's stage of life, but he sounds committed to the challenge.

Pena just recently made his 2016 debut after injuring his left knee in spring training. Given the Cardinals' need to give starter Yadier Molina significant rest down the stretch, Pena's going to be an important piece the rest of the way. For his career, Pena's batted .259/.299/.351 in 1,941 plate appearances.

Our best wishes to Pena and his family on what figures to be an important and challenging journey.