Peavy opens up about health, Ozzie

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Peavy opens up about health, Ozzie

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Once upon a time, Jake Peavy was the best pitcher in the National League. Take a look at his trophy case. He has the 2007 Cy Young Award to prove it.

For the last four seasons, Peavy has tried to get back to that pitcher who left the mound in Colorado on October 1st of that year, finishing his season with a career-best 19-6 record, a career-high 240 strikeouts and a career-low 2.54 ERA.

It hasnt been easy -- for Peavy or the White Sox.

Not by a long shot.

Obviously it hasnt been any fun for me, Peavy said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. Its been painful, both physically and emotionally just not being able to be who you know you have been in the past, and who you were traded for. There was no lack of effort. It just wasnt meant to be.

When Kenny Williams acquired Peavy from the Padres on July 31, 2009 for Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter and Adam Russell he was already dealing with an ankle injury. He suffered a strained groin with the White Sox in 2011, but that was a mere paper cut compared to the detached latissmus dorsi tendon that literally tore off the bone in Peavys throwing shoulder in a game against the Angels in 2010.

Peavy was told that his career could be over. A few years before, it likely would have been.

He underwent a rare surgery at Rush University Medical Center to reattach the tendon to the bone. Former major league pitcher Tommy John once had an experimental surgery named after him. If successful, Peavy could be next.

Now 19 months removed from the operation, Peavy is here at spring training, feeling his best from head-to-toe since the White Sox traded for him. It feels amazing actually, Peavy said.

His shoulder is finally healthy, but theres still some mystery. How healthy is it? Neither Jake nor his doctors truly have the answer.

I just dont know. I just dont know what to tell you, Peavy said. I can tell you that Im 19 months out of major surgery that nobody else has had, that nobody else has come back from. So theres no gameplan. Theres no, Hey look at this guy, and this is what he did after x months. The surgeons have just said once youre 18 months, a year and a half out of surgery, youre not going to get any better. About what you have is what you have.

What were going to be working with and what youre going to see is what youre going to get. Is that going to be what I was a few years ago? I certainly hope so. Ive certainly done everything I can possibly do physically to get back to feel the way I did back then. Is my body capable of doing that? I dont know. I can promise you Im going to find out and Im going to leave it all between the white lines and it starts here at spring training.

No one will come out and say that Peavy will be able to become a Cy Young-caliber pitcher again. The one exception might be Peavy.

I believe I can. I really do. If I didnt believe it, I wouldnt be here, he said.

For the first time since the White Sox moved their spring training facility to Glendale in 2009, Ozzie Guillen isnt here. Listen carefully, and you can hear his memorable rants echoing off the walls.

Guillens long-standing feud with Williams reached the point where somebody had to leave. It ended up being Guillen.

I was only here for a few years, and I know theres been plenty of articles and stuff written, and I think we all can agree that it had run its course, Peavy said about the GuillenWilliams saga.

Meanwhile, tension between Guillen and Peavy developed at the end of last season and into the winter when both took verbal shots at each other in the media about which one of them quit on the team following Guillens exit for Miami with two games left in the season.

Me and Ozzie ended the season on a little bit different terms, Peavy said. He thought I quit on him. There was no quit in me at all. It was just a perfect way to end the season. Numbers-wise we could not make the playoffs. I was heavily medicated and my arm, not throwing between starts, I wasnt going to do that for two more starts. Why? We had Dylan Axelrod and some other kids that were looking for an audition. It was a perfect storm. Me, Kenny, Coop, Herm Schneider, were all on the same page. Ozzie saw things a little different, and said his mind which is fine. He wasnt crazy happy with me.

But the two have since patched things up.

I love Ozzie. I was just laughing and was never meaning to create no firestorm. I love Ozzie, his boys. Ozzie was good to me, Peavy said.

However, a 79-83 record last season wasnt good for the White Sox, picked by many to win the division. As the losses piled up and the frustrations mounted, not everyone got along. Its not the first time its happened. It wont be the last.

You can put a bunch of criminals in that clubhouse, but if those criminals go out and win 105 games, everybody would be fine with it and theyll get along. Theyd be like brothers, Peavy said. You put a bunch of pastors in that room in there and lose 100 games, and theyll be cussing. Baseball takes a mental and physical toll. Thats why it takes special people to play it and thick skin."

Peavy has certainly needed that.

Its been painful, but like I said, you live and you learn, he said. But Ive lived through a lot the last two years and I certainly took some of those healthy years for granted, but I promise you...never again.

James Shields picks up White Sox bullpen in win over Cubs

James Shields picks up White Sox bullpen in win over Cubs

James Shields offered a taxed bullpen a significant boost on Tuesday night.

The right-hander pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox offense provided him with enough support for a 3-0 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,553 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields lowered his ERA over his last seven starts to 2.11 as he worked around four hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Shields threw strikes on 70 of 117 pitches as the White Sox won their fourth in a row, including their second straight over the Cubs. David Robertson recorded his 24th save in 28 tries.

A turnaround that began June 23rd in Boston reached its high point Tuesday.

Since an atrocious three-start introduction, Shields has rediscovered the form that made him one of the top starters in the American League for the better part of a decade.

With the bullpen in need of a huge lift after throwing 19 1/3 innings in the previous four games, Shields delivered. The Cubs made him work early as he needed 56 pitches for the first three innings. But Shields got a pair of quick innings in the middle and pushed deep into the second of four straight meetings with the Cubs.

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Only twice did Shields find himself in any trouble and he skillfully dodged it in both instances. After a catcher’s interference call on Dioner Navarro loaded the bases with two outs in the second, Shields induced a foul out to the screen on a 3-2 pitch against Dexter Fowler. Starting there, he retired 12 of 13 batters into the sixth. Shields put the next two men on base but got Javy Baez to foul out down the line with the aid of a nice catch by Tim Anderson.

Anderson also began nice inning-ending double play in the seventh inning, which allowed Shields to return in the eighth. He retired two before issuing a walk and exiting to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.

Shields has a 2.11 ERA in 47 innings over his last seven starts.

The White Sox took some pressure off Shields with a run in the first inning. Shields, who entered ranked 130th among 138 qualified starting pitchers with 3.2 runs per game, found himself ahead 1-0 when Jose Abreu took advantage of a leadoff walk by Adam Eaton and a Tim Anderson single with an RBI base hit of his own. The White Sox left the bases loaded but made Hendricks work.

Hendricks rebounded and retired 10 of 12 into the fifth inning. He struck out seven through four innings and mostly held the White Sox in check.

But Adam Eaton gave Shields some extra cushion in the fifth when he blasted a solo homer to right to make it a 2-0 game. Eaton’s seventh homer traveled an estimated 395 feet.

The White Sox added another run in the sixth inning after Todd Frazier’s two-out single (a pop up to medium right that bounced off the glove of Anthony Rizzo) got things started. Frazier stole second against reliever Travis Wood, who then walked three straight batters, including Tyler Saladino, to force in a third run.

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

What arguably was the best at-bat of Tim Anderson’s nascent major league career ended with a strikeout. 

Anderson led off the sixth inning of the White Sox 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday with a 10-pitch at-bat against reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. He fouled off four consecutive pitches, three of which came on a 3-2 count, before taking a sinker on the black for strike three. 

What happened after Anderson’s at-bat was where the payoff from it came: Melky Cabrera drew a walk and Jose Abreu lined a single to right. After Justin Morneau struck out looking on a high curveball — the pitch was out of the strike zone, according to BrooksBaseball.net — Todd Frazier launched a three-run home run.

 

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“I kind of felt like that got us some momentum, even though I did strike out,” Anderson said.” It kind of got him (Arrieta) flustered a little bit, got him off rhythm and we were able to capitalize on that.”

The 23-year-old Anderson hasn’t made a living on patient, lengthy at-bats since being promoted to the majors in early June. Anderson entered Tuesday’s Crosstown date with the Cubs seeing an average of 3.56 pitches per plate appearance, ranking 278th out of 310 players with at least 150 plate appearances this season (former White Sox and current Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski is last with 3.09 P/PA, while the Cleveland Indians’ Mike Napoli leads the majors with 4.59 P/PA). 

Anderson also has the lowest walk rate (1.2 percent) of any player with 150 plate appearances, which would explain why he only has a .281 on-base percentage despite hitting a relatively healthy .273. 

It’s relatively rare for a player to have a walk rate as low as Anderson’s and have an above-average season at the plate. The lowest walk rates for players with a wRC+ over 100 (100 being average) over the last three years: Adam Jones (3.6 percent walk rate, 119 wRC+ in 2013), Dee Gordon (3.8 percent walk rate, 113 wRC+ in 2014) and Jones (2.8 percent walk rate, 116 wRC+ in 2015).

[RELATED: White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion']

Eventually, Anderson will have to become more patient at the plate to maximize on his outstanding contact skills. The battle he had with Arrieta showed he can fight off plenty of pitches from one of baseball’s best hurlers, which manager Robin Ventura saw as a positive long-term sign. 

It didn’t hurt things in in the short-term view of the sixth inning Monday, either. 

“He’s getting a taste of some good pitchers,” Ventura said. “I think that’s part of his process going through the league, seeing these guys. He doesn’t back down, he’s a very confident kid. You learn something as well as be productive. You like to see a kid fight like that at the plate.”

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

Kenny Williams doesn’t want the fallout from Chris Sale’s latest incident to drag out any longer.

The White Sox executive vice president said Tuesday he’d like to move on and thought going into detail on Sale’s comments about Robin Ventura or any other aspect of the incident that led to the pitcher’s suspension would be counterproductive.

Sale is in the third day of a five-game suspension imposed by the club for insubordination and destruction of team property after he destroyed the throwback jerseys they were set to wear on Saturday and was sent home early. On Monday, Sale told MLB.com that Ventura needed to stand up for his players when they objected to the 1976 unis.

“The one thing I can say is the way that Rick and Robin I think handled the situation, it was a difficult situation, certainly a unique situation, but one in which I think they handled in an excellent fashion,” said Williams, who was at an out-of-town event Saturday.

Sale defended his decision to destroy the uniforms, an act the Associated Press reported cost him $12,700 in fines as well as the suspension. Some players objected to last year’s throwback uniforms and the team altered them to make them more comfortable.

But Sale made it clear in spring training and again on Friday he didn’t wear them. He said wearing the throwbacks could hinder performance and thought it was a promotional stunt where the club put business in front of winning. Sale also disagreed with how Ventura, who sent him home early and scratched him from making a start, handled the situation.

[RELATED: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it.”

Ventura didn’t directly address Sale’s comments on Tuesday in an effort to move on from the incident. Asked if he believed he and Sale can co-exist, Ventura said yes. He also said he didn’t think he would have handled the situation any different.

Sale previously ripped Williams endlessly in a 14-minute media session in March after Adam LaRoche abruptly retired over a dispute with management about how often his son Drake could be around the team. The White Sox declined to suspend Sale at that point, but didn’t hesitate to do so on Sunday. Hahn said Sale’s actions warranted the punishment.

Williams was asked if the organization would try to keep Sale on a tighter leash in the future. But rather than launch into a diatribe of his own, Williams suggested its better for all parties if they work through the scenario internally than have it play out in the media.

“You know me and I’m never one to shy away from a direct question,” Williams said. “But I’m more interested in moving on. Any further comment beyond what I said is counterproductive to all of that. At one point in my career, you probably would have gotten me to comment in a very different way.”