Ballantini: Peavy is still 'all-in' for Opening Day

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Ballantini: Peavy is still 'all-in' for Opening Day

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
2:05 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

What impressed about Jake Peavys session with reporters on Tuesday wasnt that it was delayed a few minutes because hed literally just stepped off the mound after a workout, or that manager Ozzie Guillen felt compelled to interrupt Peavy by shouting, you better be ready for spring training or Im gonna get fired.

It was the no-bull, bullheaded hurlers unmitigated devotion to a White Sox team he felt hes let down in his short time in Chicago and pure drive he has to right a career thats fallen off-track in the American League, after a half-dozen dominant campaigns for the San Diego Padres.

This winters been miserable, Peavy said, acknowledging everything from his rehab from a season-ending latissimus dorsi tear on July 6, a recent illness of his fathers and unseasonably cold weather. But Ive been out there, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, playing catch. Im pushing it, while listening to my body. But I want to be ready by Opening Day. I think I can be.

Peavy created a stir at SoxFest in January (via general manager Ken Williams) by texting the GM with his typical enthusiasm, something the ace embarrassingly chuckled away when reminded on Tuesday.

I was just sending him an update, Peavy said. You know me. I was fired up.

Peavy also acknowledged after he was acquired by the Chisox at the 2009 trading deadline with an injured ankle, Williams wanted him to proceed with caution.

Kenny tried to put the brakes on me hard, to his credit, said the righthander. I pushed right through those brakes and said, Kenny, Im going good. Let me go, let me start.

Peavy spun three tantalizing games for the White Sox in September 2009, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and .850 WHIP. But to hear him tell it, things were already running off the rails.

Winning those three games, it wasnt me, Peavy said. I got into some bad habits by favoring my ankle. I was trying too hard to come back, and it wasnt a good move on my part.

Peavy added that it took until video sessions at the end of April 2010 before he and pitching coach Don Cooper saw how badly his mechanics had fallen off.

The launching point for Peavys comeback is his recovery from a slow start in 2010. After correcting his mechanics, Peavy went 3-2 with a 1.75 ERA and .917 WHIP in five June starts, including a complete-game shutout at the Washington Nationals on June 19. Three starts later, on July 6, Peavy was lost for the season with his muscle tear.

I found myself, and had a strong month, Peavy said. That helps because I dont have to worry about finding my mechanics or arm slot again. Its something you build on, working from a positive place. If you have to get hurt, its better to get hurt when youre pitching well than poorly.

Peavy estimates himself at 60 to 70 percent but acknowledged that at his time of the offseason, no pitchers arm is at full strength.

I can tell my arm is not that strong, because its taking me longer than usual to get my arm strength back, he said. But even healthy you always hope that spring training pulls arm strength up.

The nine-year veteran reported with confidence that hed completed at the end of January his three-month throwing rehabilitation program, one that was constructed virtually out of thin air by White Sox staff, surgeons and doctors due to the uniqueness of Peavys injury. The pitchers Tuesday workout consisted of a half-hour of 120-foot long toss throwing at full strength, with no mental reluctance and a 40-pitch mix of fastballs and changeups off the mound. The ace planned on two more sessions off the mound prior to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training on Feb. 17. Once in Glendale, Peavy will undergo an MRI and sit down with Cooper and others to plot his navigation through March.

Ill be the ringleader and try to push the envelope to make sure Im ready as soon as possible, Peavy said. Im sure they will play devils advocate. Only I know how Im feeling, but Im going to be reverent toward the coaches and staff I need to be reverent toward.

One difference that Peavy noted about rehabbing from the first arm injury hes ever suffered is that hes no longer quickly ready to pitch a la Mark Buehrle. But despite the longer pregame bullpen sessions and greater overall caution paid to the health of his arm, Peavy anticipates great success both for him and the entire five-man rotation in 2011.

Its a huge swing either way being ready or not on Opening Day, Peavy said. If Im healthy, it makes us a deeper and better team. I love all the starting pitchers we have, and all five of us, the team should be able to lean on when it needs to.

As for his potential rotation fill-in, rookie Chris Sale, Peavy ravedand apparently, so did a key White Sox nemesis.

I saw Joe Mauer this offseason down in Cabo, and he went on and on about the ability and stuff of Sale, Peavy said. Believe me, Im not trying to keep Chris out of the rotationbut him at the back end of our bullpen makes us stronger. But his presence means if I have to miss a turn or two, so be it.

Presumably slotting into the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Peavy would not have to take the mound until April 9 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. Whether or not hes able to pitch in front of an adoring U.S. Cellular Field crowd a mere two months from now, Peavy is calmera bit calmer, at leastand more philosophical about his rebound, at the wise, old age of 29.

An injury like this makes you a stronger person, he said. I appreciate the game better than I ever have. Im going to be the guy Ozzie feels I can be. Im eager to show people that I have a lot of years left.

Short Stops

Peavy was giddy with this winters White Sox acquisitions, particularly Adam Dunn: We were too righthanded-dominant last year, with no power and balance in the batting order Ive faced Dunn many times, and he gets on base. I cant see 40 home runs not happening for Dunn in our ballpark.

On rookie Brent Morel: I hear Morel might be our third baseman this year. I loved the defense he played last season.

On Alexei Ramirezs defensive wizardry: I dont know how the voting goes for the Gold Glove, but I dont see many people in the AL better defensively.

Peavy said the Minnesota Twins are still the team to beat in the AL Central (weve got our work cut out for us) and that even with the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians rebuilding the AL Central is absolutely a great division.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

The White Sox said all along they were confident Jose Quintana would rebound and now that he has no seems the least bit surprised.

Quintana provided yet another round of proof that he’s far removed from those May woes when he silenced the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. While the left-hander earned a no decision, he was rewarded when the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana finished June with a 1.78 ERA.

“We have a very good relationship, very good communication,” teammate Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “When (Quintana) was passing through that, the first two months, I let him know, just keep your confidence, don’t hesitate, do your job, keep working hard because we have confidence in you. Now he’s just showing us what he’s capable of doing and doing what he’s been doing his whole career. We’re glad he’s the same Jose Quintana he’s been the last couple of years.”

Quintana has gone from a period where many of his mistakes got hit to a spot where he’s been borderline untouchable. He limited the second-best offense in the American League to two hits and four walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday. With good fastball command and a sharp curve, Quintana had New York hitters out of whack.

This is a much different pitcher than the one who was tagged by the Boston Red Sox on May 30, an outing after which he said he was embarrassed. Since losing to Boston, Quintana has lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.37. In that span, Quintana has allowed 21 hits and six earned runs with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

“Sometime bad games are going to happen,” Quintana said. “But when it happens, I go check the video to see if I’m doing something wrong and try to make adjustments. But I feel pretty good and I have my confidence high and for me I turn the page and focus on the next one.”

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The 2016 All-Star thrived in the few instances when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He struck out Tyler Austin with two men in scoring position to end the fourth inning and erased a leadoff walk in the fifth with an Austin Romine double play. After Quintana surrendered a two-out double to Judge in the sixth inning, he got Sanchez to pop out to strand the tying run.

Quintana only threw strikes on 55 of 101 pitches on Tuesday. But, of those 55, 10 were swings and misses.

“It's just been him commanding the zone, attacking,” manager Rick Renteria said. “A lot more strikes. He still had some at-bats today where he got to 3-2, but then he'd execute, he'd finish and make a pitch that induced a very weak fly ball or groundballs. That's who he is, I mean you all have seen him like this before. For us it's just seeing him get back to who he's always been.”

White Sox come back to beat Yankees on walk-off single by Jose Abreu

White Sox come back to beat Yankees on walk-off single by Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu was able to shake off an earlier disappointment once he got a second chance on Tuesday night.

Batting with the bases loaded for the second straight inning, Abreu took advantage of the moment and lifted the White Sox to a much-needed victory with a walk-off single. Abreu’s two-out, two-run single off Dellin Betances helped the White Sox snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win in front of 18,023 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The White Sox also loaded the bases in the eighth inning but only scored once and were down to their final out before Abreu’s heroics brought them back.

“If you just focus on the bad things that happen then you’re just missing opportunities,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “In the inning after that at-bat that I struck out I was just thinking, ‘God, just give me one more opportunity. Give me one more opportunity to do my job’ and I was glad that I got it because I was able to win that game.”

“It was a very special moment. We needed it. We needed this game. We needed the celebration.”

It all came a little too late for Jose Quintana, who earned a no decision in spite of 6 1/3 scoreless innings. But given they had the winning run on board in a one-run loss on Monday and only scored once despite loading the bases with no outs in the eighth, the White Sox will take it.

Abreu, who struck out against Tyler Clippard in the eighth with no outs after three straight walks, got ahead of Betances 2-1 in the count before he singled through the left side to score the tying and go-ahead runs. Alen Hanson, who entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, scored the winning run. Hanson followed a one-out walk of Kevan Smith (the first of his career) with his second free pass in as many trips. Betances hit Yolmer Sanchez to load the bases with one out before he induced a Melky Cabrera short fly out. Abreu finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and has driven in 51 this season.

“Today I can gladly say we didn’t fall short,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I can gladly say they finished out the game coming back, putting the final run on the board to put them over the top. They should experience that, enjoy it and use it to their advantage in terms of understanding what we are capable of doing.”

The White Sox were 0-40 this season when trailing after eight innings before Tuesday's rally.

Quintana earned the 63rd no decision of his career when the Yankees broke through in the eighth inning against Tommy Kahnle, who had a rare poor performance. Kahnle gave up a game-tying, two-out single to Aaron Judge and a two-run double to Gary Sanchez as the White Sox went from up a run to trailing 3-1.

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The White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth on all walks, but only scored once. Abreu struck out, Avisail Garcia flew out and Matt Davidson also whiffed to leave the bases loaded. The White Sox lone run came on a two-out walk by Todd Frazier.

The same offensive woes kept them from breaking out with Quintana on the hill. While they provided lavish run support in his previous two starts, the White Sox were back to their old ways with Quintana on Tuesday. They did give him a 1-0 lead when Abreu cued a two-out RBI double off Luis Severino in the third inning.

But Severino was otherwise a machine as he struck out 12 batters and walked none.

Quintana was even better, limiting the Yankees to nothing. He allowed two hits, walked four and struck out six. Though he didn’t earn the victory individually, Quintana was more than pleased to see his teammates pile onto Abreu in between first and second base after the walk-off single.

“That was what we want every time,” Quintana said. “We try to do the best on the mound and keep the games close and something good happens.”