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."

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

[RELATED: Jim Thome on being a finalist for National Baseball Hall of Fame]

Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI. 

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”