Sox lose, but another positive step for Peavy

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Sox lose, but another positive step for Peavy

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted: 3:09 p.m. Updated: 5:33 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Theres nothing Jake Peavy likes better than making major league hitters miss pitches. And for the bulk of his second Cactus League start vs. the San Francisco Giants, he did just that.

Peavy threw 49 pitches, 31 for strikes, in falling one out short of completing four innings the longest outing for a White Sox pitcher so far this spring. The righthander was bounced after Aubrey Huff deposited a cutter into the seats just inside the right-field foul pole at Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants added three runs off of Jeff Gray in the sixth to shoot ahead 4-0. The White Sox halved that lead with back-to-back homers to right field by Adam Dunn and Stefan Gartrell.

Today wasnt as free and easy as the other day, Peavy said. It was certainly a lot of work to get ready, but my body did all we asked it to do. I wasnt very sharp. I had pretty decent stuff. It was just a good step in the right direction, another hurdle to clear and moving on toward my ultimate goal, and thats to break camp with the team.

I dont want to get excited, but out of the rotation, he throws the ball the best right now, Guillen said. Hes hitting his spots, making pitches. I was very glad today, because he was facing the regular Giants lineup. He was supposed to go three innings, he went to the fourth. I was supposed to take him out before the home run; I left him in there because the pitch count was good.

"It was a very exciting day, but were in the same situation we were last time. Its all about how he feels tomorrow. But its a step forward, if you want to call it that.

While Peavy is his own harshest critic, the fella catching him thought it was the best hes seen from the White Sox workhorse.

Peavy threw the ball great: His slider was as good as Ive seen it in the last two years, his control was there, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He was a little bit off, but Jake is a perfectionist and if he doesnt throw every single pitch where he wants it, he gets mad. Basically, the home run to Huff was a ball in, off the plate. He had to throw out of the stretch to try to get some work on it because he went so easy the first three innings. He was only supposed to go three, and he almost went four.

Peavy has a 1-2-3 first, throwing nine pitches, six for strikes. He whiffed leadoff hitter Andres Torres on a cutter, then induced increasingly deep fly outs to center from Freddy Sanchez and Huff. Ironically, Peavy had just cracked Huffs bat on a foul grounder before the blast.

Early in the game, yeah you watch how the cutter, Peavy said. In spring training, you feel fresh out of chute. You throw crisp breaking balls, and I threw some good ones early.

In the second, Peavy also retired the side in order. Buster Posey popped out to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, Miguel Tejada was jammed and grounded out weakly to short, and a lazy fly to Juan Pierre ended the inning.

The third saw more of the same, with Peavy firing more strikes, getting Pat Burrell to ground out to short, Cody Ross to pop weakly to second baseman Omar Vizquel, and DH Mark DeRosa to fly out to center.

He was unable to finish the fourth, inducing fly outs from Torres and Sanchez before Huff clocked a 1-2 pitch out of the park.

The pitch Aubrey hit out it was the same cutter that struck out Torres, Peavy said. You lose some command as game goes on but thats part of building and climbing to build endurance.

In the fourth, having allowed no baserunners, Peavy worked from the stretch against both Sanchez and Ross. Yes, its where he gave up the eventual winning run. Its also an inning he wasnt supposed to pitch.

Getting up and down four times was the biggest thing, Peavy said, unsure even of how many pitches he threw in the game. Ozzie and Coop asked me if wanted to go back out. I hadn't thrown out of stretch, and I wanted to go out of the stretch with game-like intensity.

In all, Peavy had one strikeout and one walk, and two of his 10 other outs were ground balls. The righthander is due to make his next start at home on Monday vs. the San Diego Padres.

A good day, all in all, Peavy said. I came out of it healthy and climbing. That's all you can ask for.

It was a great day for the White Sox, again, Guillen said. Every day Peavy goes out there before the season starts, its a great day for us. I didnt expect him to throw this well today. The first outing, youre all pumped up and want to be back on the mound, but the second outing, for me, was very important. He handled it very well.

Rinse and repeat

As Guillen said, Wednesdays outing was spectacular, but it all comes down to how Peavy feels Thursday.

Thats was one of the things were going to monitor: Am I able to bounce back and throw a good side session and have good days of playing catch, and feel up to par to starting five days later? Peavy said. We did that. It was a lot of work, but we got there. I hope that continues to be the case. Im going to have typical soreness and probably am going to go through that dead arm period.

The ball didnt feel like it was coming out the other day like it did vs. Anaheim but like I said, you have these kind of starts. But were on the up and up. That was their 'A' lineup and we got some guys out. They hit the ball hard, but they were being aggressive. I was throwing the ball across the plate so

As Pierzynski noted, Peavy is his own harshest critic, so take his self-flagellation with a grain of salt.

Ham sandwiched

Plus, there was a matter of hamstring tightness that slowed Peavys roll.

I had a little hamstring tightness, Peavy said. We had that going on and wrapped up and like I said, my arm didnt feel that great. So we didnt want to go there and push it, push it, push it. Obviously we faced a pretty good lineup today and had to get some good hitters out, and I did that.

Uh, whats that about a hamstring, Jake?

My right hamstring has a little bit of a knot in it. When you have those little bitty things, theres no sense in going out there in spring training and pushing the envelope. I would even suspect my velocity was probably more down a little bit, because I certainly didnt push it as hard as I pushed it vs. Anaheim. The other day vs. Anaheim I made sure I was healthy and made sure I could throw the ball 90-92 mph without being hurt. I know I can do that now. I just need to find that happy medium of building that arm strength toward the start of the season now.
Adam Dunn hit his first home run of the spring, and while it's only March, both Dunn and manager Ozzie Guillen were relieved to see one finally get out of the park. (AP)
Another good sign from Peavy is that unlike his first start vs. the Angels, he threw all of his pitches against San Francisco, including the changeup he avoided on March 4.

I threw about five changeups, five cutters, five breaking balls, and a lot of fastballs, he said. I was aggressive today, I threw balls across the plate but made them hit it. I got a little tiredagainst Buster, I tried to throw a good sinker but got on top of it for a walk in there late. You start to lose a little command as the game wears on.

Dunn goes Bunyan

Dunn clouted his first homer of the spring in the ninth, a mammoth clout that landed about 430 feet from home plate, above the Salty Pavilion sign in right but slightly short of the Charro Lodge roof. But the affable slugger didnt put much stock in getting his first dinger on the board.

Its good to feel like you can actually still do it, Dunn said. Anytime you square one up, its good. It doesnt matter when it is I come into spring training getting ready for April 1, not March 5. The competitor in you wants to do really good, but you cant expect to do really good when youre kinda getting back into it. Every day Im working, just trying to get ready for opening day and a long season.

Dunns manager was a bit relieved, however.

He needs that for his confidence, Guillen said. Hes swinging the bat pretty good. Hell start swinging the bat better. He swung well in Tucson. I dont worry about him but he needs to take the monkey off his back and relax a bit.

The slugger himself was more tickled by Cody Ross in right field. In the fourth inning, Dunn smashed a single so hard that Ross would have stood a good chance of throwing Dunn out at first. Dunn acknowledged as much, yelling at Ross and making a throwing gesture as he crossed first.

Thats Cody, Dunn laughed.When he was with the Florida Marlins, he would act like hes firing to first every time. So I threw my gum at him.

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

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May earned his first career hit on Saturday night when he singled up in the middle against Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, ending an 0-for-26 start to his major league career. That lengthy stretch without a hit put a weight on May's back heavier than a monkey, as the cliché usually goes.

Instead, that weight felt like America's favorite deceased silverback gorilla. 

"It was kind of like having Harambe on my back," May, a Cincinnati native, said. "I was in a chokehold because I couldn't breathe as well. Now that he's gone, hopefully I can have a lot of success and help this team win.

In all seriousness, May felt an extraordinary relief when he reached first base. He said first base coach Daryl Boston looked at him and said, "Finally," when he reached first base, and when he got back to the dugout, he was mobbed by his teammates and hugged by manager Rick Renteria.

Before anyone could congratulate him in the dugout, though, May let out a cathartic scream into his helmet.

"I was just like oh, man, I let loose a little bit," May said. "This locker room, every'one has kind of helped me out and brought me aside, and told me to just relax. It's a tough situation when you are trying to impress instead of going out there and having fun. Just kind of got to release all that tension built up."

May only had the opportunity to hit because left fielder Melky Cabrera injured his left wrist in the top of the seventh inning (X-Rays came back negative and Cabrera said he should be able to play Sunday). May didn't have much time to think about having to pinch hit for Cabrera, who was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, which Renteria figured worked in his favor.

"When we hit for Melky, I was talking to (bench coach Joe McEwing), I said, 'He's not going to have anytime to think about it. He's going to get into the box and keep it probably as simple as possible,'" Renteria said. "I don't think he even had enough time to put his guard on his shin. He just got a pitch out over the middle of the plate and stayed within himself and just drove it up the middle, which was nice to see. Obviously very excited for him."

When May reached first base, he received a standing ovation from the crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field, too, even with the White Sox well on their way to a 7-0 loss to the Indians. It's a moment May certainly won't forget anytime soon, especially now that he got Harambe off his back.

"I kind of soaked it all in," May said. "It was probably one of the most surreal, best experiences of my life."

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

The White Sox haven't scored in their last 23 innings and only have had one runner reach second base in their last 20 frames, a stretch of offensive futility manager Rick Renteria said can be used as a learning experience. 

The White Sox managed just four baserunners and were shut out, 7-0, by a dominant Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians Saturday evening in front of 32,044 at Guaranteed Rate Field. While the White Sox have run into some top pitching over their last three games — Masahiro Tanaka, Corey Kluber and Carrasco, the latter of whom fired eight shutout innings Saturday — Renteria admitted some of his hitters have been pressing lately, too. 

"For me, it’s about our learning curve now and understanding that (those pitchers) are really executing and doing what they want to do," Renteria said. "And we want to make sure that we give ourselves a chance by staying and trusting with the approaches that we take into the at-bats and try not to focus too much on the results and stay focused on the approaches and we know that the results will take care of themselves. But I know the guys are wanting to get the big hit or wanting to drive the ball out of the ballpark as opposed to just staying very simple. I think it’s a great learning lesson for all of us as a club."

The lone offensive bright spot came in the seventh inning, when Jacob May — pinch-hitting for Melky Cabrera, who jammed his wrist chasing a foul ball but had X-Rays come back negative — connected for a leadoff single, the first hit of his career. The 25-year-old began his career hitless in his first 26 at-bats, and upon returning to the dugout let out a cathartic yell into his helmet and was mobbed by his teammates. After the game, he said it felt like he got "Harambe" off his back. 

Mike Pelfrey, replacing the injured James Shields, allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with one walk and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings. The White Sox didn’t want to bring up one of their prize pitching prospects in Triple-A for only two or three starts, so it was the 33-year-old Pelfrey who got the start.

Edwin Encarnacion blasted a two-run home run on a two-out, 0-2 pitch in the first inning, and was tagged for two unearned runs in the fifth on a Carlos Santana double and Francisco Lindor sacrifice fly.

Cleveland tacked on more runs on Michael Brantley’s two-run home run in the seventh and Jose Ramirez’s solo home run in the eighth off Michael Ynoa, who replaced Zach Putnam after the right-hander left the game due to tenderness in his right elbow. The White Sox announced Putnam is day-to-day due to the issue, though Renteria said the issue was more with Putnam's tricep, not his elbow. 

Tyler Saladino singled twice and Jose Abreu drew a walk to account for the other baserunners the White Sox managed against Carrasco.