Chicago White Sox

A healthy Peavy clears the air

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A healthy Peavy clears the air

For the first time since coming to Chicago, Jake Peavy hasn't had to worry about rehabbing anything during the winter. While that usually would lead to some sense of normalcy, Peavy won't know exactly where he's at until spring training. After all, he's five years removed from his last 200-inning season -- a number Kenny Williams fully expects his starter to reach in 2011.

"I'm as sure as I'm going to get that I'm as good as I'm going to get, so I gotta find out where I stand," Peavy said Friday. "I've let it go and I've done everything I can to hopefully get back to close to, if not the form I had when I got here."

That form, though, has escaped Peavy in the last two seasons. Just as he was turning a corner in 2010, his latissimus dorsi muscle tore clean off his shoulder. In 2011, he struggled through and up-and-down campaign that saw him sputter to a 4.92 ERA.

"The last few years haven't been fun," Peavy admitted. "There've certainly been times when I've asked myself, 'are you really going to go on like this?' But, at the same time, you gotta push through. As an athlete, I love this game -- I want to do what I got traded to Chicago to do, and that's be healthy and help this team win.

"I haven't really been able to be that guy," Peavy continued. "I'm not going to blame it all on injuries, but we all know I had some pretty significant injuries that hasn't been fun. But at the same time, I am who I am, I'm gonna go out there and give it all I've got to give."

Peavy's preached optimism in the last couple of years, but he has yet to revert to his former self on a consistent basis. For every shutout of a strong Indians lineup, there was a shellacking at the hands of a generally-hapless Twins offense.

But perhaps this year will finally be the one that's different -- after all, it's the first normal offseason Peavy's had in years.

Well, normal on a preparation level. His "feud" with Ozzie Guillen, of course, was hardly normal.

"I love Ozzie Guillen. A lot of that stuff was taken out of context," explained Peavy, referring to his comments about Ozzie quitting on the 2011 White Sox. "Ozzie knows I love him, I gave Ozzie everything I had to give him, and he knows that. When people were saying he was going to come out firing, I said there's nothing he can say about me unless he wants to not say the truth, because I truly gave him everything I could give him as a player. He did the same for me as a manager. I never spoke bad about Ozzie as a manager at all.

"I love Ozzie and we wish him the best in Miami. I'm glad that's over with."

So outside of that little blip with the maybe-not feud with Guillen, everything's been great for Peavy this winter. That normalcy could go a long way. He doesn't feel any trepidation regarding his arm -- it's not going to be any better, but it certainly won't get any worse.

And there's one other positive to take away.

"My offseason's great," said Peavy with a grin. "Alabama just won their fourth national title."

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Nothing is proven, Lucas Giolito will have to come back next season and show he can do this once again. But another huge development in the White Sox rebuild has been the continued development and success of Giolito late in the season.

The young White Sox pitcher added another outstanding performance to the ledger on Sunday afternoon.

Giolito pitched seven sharp innings and helped the White Sox officially avoid 100 losses in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. He allowed a run and five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It’s another step in a nice turnaround for Giolito, who struggled at Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I feel like this is where I can pitch,” Giolito said. “I can pitch deep into games. I wouldn't really say awestruck or anything like that. I’d say that there’s a lot of struggles there earlier this year. I worked through those … I feel like getting the confidence back up, it’s all I really needed to feel comfortable and be ready to go.”

Some of the metrics would suggest Giolito is in line for a dropoff. While his earned-run average is 2.38, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.94. His xFIP is a little lower at 4.42. But the elevated numbers are in part due to Giolito not missing as many bats and striking out 6.75 batters per nine innings.

But Giolito’s big-league numbers also come at a time in which he has never pitched more. He has pitched a combined 174 innings this season, which dwarfs his previous high of 136 2/3 innings in 2016.

Despite the workload, the right-hander continues to bring good stuff. He got seven swings and misses and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball, which averaged 92.3 mph, according to Baseball Savant.

“He's got angle, he's got height,” manager Rick Renteria said “He's got good angle so that creates, believe or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup. So the angle creates some pretty good deception.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign]

Giolito has filled up the strikezone since he reached the majors partly because of belief in his stuff. He’s thrown strikes on 63.4 percent of his pitches and was even better Sunday with 65 of 98 offerings. The other part of it is trust in his defense, which made several spectacular plays behind him.

Giolito knows this is only the beginning. But he feels good after a stretch in which he has quality starts in five of six games. Over the stretch he has a 1.83 ERA and 25 hits allowed with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“My confidence is there,” Giolito said. “I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I’m talking to (Don Cooper) about. There’s always stuff to improve, for sure. I’d say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I’m going to continue to try and pitch like I am.”

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

When searching for why Avisail Garcia has had sustained success this season, you can’t overlook his fitter frame.

The White Sox outfielder entered a breakout 2017 season approximately 18 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. Garcia, who’s hitting .331, doubled, homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 8-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon. Given the way he has performed this season, the first-time All-Star said he plans to work even harder this offseason.

“One hundred percent (better),” Garcia said. “I want to keep losing a little bit more. I want to feel way better next year.”

Garcia has provided the White Sox with a boatload of feel-good moments this season. He cut down two base runners in Friday night’s wild victory over the Royals, including on the final play of the game. Overall, Garcia has felt a difference in the field and it’s shown up in his defensive numbers. He headed into Sunday worth 2 Defensive Runs Saved after he finished the 2015 season at minus-11.

But even more of Garcia’s production has come at the plate, where he reached the 80-RBI mark on Sunday. He followed a one-out Yoan Moncada double off Ian Kennedy in the first inning with an opposite-field blast to right field, Garcia’s 18th homer.

Six innings later, Garcia doubled in a run. He’s hitting .331/.379/.504 on the season and entered Sunday worth 3.5 f-Wins Above Replacement.

“It seems likes he’s always finding barrel and like, man, that’s impressive to go up there, have disciplined at-bats and consistently get the barrel of the bat to the ball,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said.

Garcia’s play has offered him more encouragement to continue his efforts. Though he was adamant at the All-Star Game he wanted to duplicate his first-half efforts, Garcia suffered a series of injuries that bothered him throughout July. But he’s found comfort at the plate once again and knows how important a role his improved conditioning has played.

“The offseason, I have to do the same even harder,” Garcia said. “I want to do my best every year so now I have the ability to be here and trying to help my team. Just have to keep working.”