BOSTON -- The trash talk has already begun.
Even though Jake Peavy expects to be composed when he faces his former White Sox teammates on Saturday night, he can’t promise he’ll keep his cool when Adam Dunn steps to the plate.
Best friends on and off the field, Dunn and Peavy bonded during their 2 1/2 seasons together on the South Side.
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At the root of their friendship was a love of competition mixed in with a high level of trash talk. Now that they have to face each other as opponents, the two know anything can happen when they meet at Fenway Park on Saturday night. Peavy, acquired by the Boston Red Sox on July 30 in a three-team deal, faces the White Sox for the first time since he was traded at 6:10 p.m. Saturday. Peavy promises to be mostly focused but gave no such guarantee with Dunn.
“Dunner is such a big clown, I’m just worried about him,” Peavy said. “You don’t ever know about him. He could come up there and bat right-handed just because somebody dared him to and sit there and take or bunt. Who knows?”
While the details of their first official showdown since 2010 are uncertain, Peavy and Dunn know each other quite well on the diamond.
Whenever Peavy pitched and Dunn was the designated hitter, the slugger would sit in the clubhouse and watch his friend’s start closely. In between innings, Dunn would head to the dugout and discuss with Peavy what he was doing, what he thought worked and what didn’t. There was so much respect, Peavy sometimes offered to let Dunn call a pitch or two.
“He trusted me enough to do it,” Dunn said.
Peavy has just as thorough an understanding of Dunn’s game, enough where if the right-hander executes his plan, Dunn knows it likely won’t go his way.
Having played with most of the current White Sox the past few seasons, Peavy is confident he knows how to get each batter out. But he also knows his former teammates know how he’ll approach them.
But as White Sox manager Robin Ventura knows, that just leads to more uncertainty, especially in the case of Dunn vs. Peavy.
“They’ll probably both outthink themselves thinking they know what the other guy is thinking,” Ventura said. “That’s part of the game. It’s fun to watch and see it play out.”
While they haven’t play in a regular season game against each other in three years, Peavy and Dunn have squared off on the backfields at Camelback Ranch in spring training.
Those showdowns led to as much back-and-forth exchange and cursing from Peavy as any normal start would. That’s why Peavy is already geared up to face Dunn and vice versa.
“I don’t know if you can get any more intense than we were on that back field,” Peavy said. “You know how Dunner is. We went out and had a late dinner (Thursday) when he got in. He tries to talk a big game and get in my head, but we’re going to have fun. Adam’s obviously a huge threat in that lineup and I have to do all I can do to put our friendship out of the equation when he comes up and make sure I get him out.”
Dunn would love to pull out all the stops for their showdown.
He’d like nothing better than to mess with his friend’s head. But Dunn also has a respect for the fact Peavy is pitching in a pennant race and the calendar is about to flip to September.
With that in mind, Dunn -- who doesn’t hesitate to say he won their spring training meetings -- will extend some professional courtesy Peavy’s way and not take it too far. He has instead set a goal of reaching base against Peavy and stealing second. A left-handed hitter, Dunn also likes Peavy’s suggestion of hitting from the right side.
“I want to steal off him because he don’t think I can do it,” Dunn said. “I didn’t think about the right-handed thing. That’s a good idea. He knows I can take him deep right-handed, too.”