Peavy applauds Wood's ride into the sunset

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Peavy applauds Wood's ride into the sunset

Jake Peavy knows what it's like to go through grueling rehab sessions. He knows what it's like to be frustrated with not being healthy. And he knows what it's like to wonder if he's lost his ability to pitch in the majors.

Kerry Wood went through many of the same tribulations during his career, which began in 1998 and will come to a close this weekend at Wrigley Field. Through all the injuries, surgeries and simulated games, Wood amassed a 3.67 ERA and 1,581 strikeouts in 1,379 23 innings.

"At the end of the day, when you come back from those injuries and you go through what he had to go through, it not only takes a huge physical toll, there's a whole mental side of that where you say 'gosh, do I have it left in me to go through every bit of this rehab and push myself the way that I used to to get back,'" Peavy said prior to Friday's BP Crosstown Cup opener.

"And obviously, the older you get, the more your body slows down. Good for him to come to that conclusion -- it's sad, but at the same time it's a day that needs to be looked on as a happy day and look back at the wonderful career he did have."

Peavy's in his 11th season in the majors, but he's only had to battle injury issues for the last five or so years. Wood underwent Tommy John surgery in 1999 and has been locked in what seemed like a constant battle with his body ever since. So for him to push through and pitch nearly a decade and a half in the majors is something Peavy truly respects.

"I can promise you, as a guy who's been through some major injuries over the last few years, there's nothing easy about what he's done and the mental grind and toll that takes on you," Peavy said. "I can understand him getting to this point where he's saying you know what, it's been a good run but it's that time."

Peavy turns 31 at the end of May, and he's not nearing that time. He's pitching better than he ever has in a White Sox uniform, and he'll be a free agent at the end of the season if the Sox -- or, as he'll admit, whatever team may trade for him this summer -- decline his 22 million option for 2013. Peavy's been on teams that have won division championships in 2005 and 2006, and he's felt the heartbreak of narrowly missing the postseason in 2007. He won a Cy Young, has made two All-Star teams and was the first to tackle Philip Humber after his perfect game, so he knows a little about personal accomplishments, too.

But despite all that, he's still in awe of Wood's 20-strikeout game.

"When you watch that game and watch what he did to a big league lineup -- I'm not taking anything away from any of these games -- you can go watch Phil's perfect game and Mark Buehrle's perfect game and there's really, please don't take this the wrong way, not a comparison to what he did in terms of the domination and the sheer fact of 'I am so much better than you today,'" Peavy said. "That's incredible."

Peavy even admits he's gone back and watched Wood's 20-strikeout game three or four times, just to admire how dominant the then-rookie was that day against Houston.

"For big-league players to not be able to hit the baseball at all, it goes down as one of those games that has to be one of the best ever pitched in the major leagues," he opined.

While Peavy is seeing renewed success as a starting pitcher this season, he's previously intimated that a bullpen role could be in his future if he can't cut it in the rotation. That's a switch Wood made with a high level of success in 2005 before permanently moving to a relief role in 2007 -- the same year Peavy won his Cy Young.

Peavy admired Wood as a young pitcher with San Diego a decade ago. And while both pitchers are in their 30's, it sounds like Peavy still looks up to the now-retiring Cubs hurler.

"He was a guy you always looked up to and wanted to be like, because of how dominant he was as a starter and in the bullpen," Peavy said. "At the end of the day, when I think about him just persevering, being the last couple of years he's had a lot of years like I've had as far as battling back and trying to get back to a certain level of play. In my book, that is to be applauded, to come back time and time again and when he did come back, do well and be an integral part of the team."

So as Wood rides into the sunset, Peavy's going to be right there to send him off.

"I wish him all the best in retirement and applaud him on a wonderful career."

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”