Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Posted 9:05 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
Glendale, Ariz. - When Jake Peavy arrived for his physical Thursday at Camelback Ranch a towering figure hovered a few feet away, anxiously hoping the doctors wouldnt find any snags in the comeback of his 55 million dollar pitcher.
Fortunately for White Sox GM Kenny Williams, Peavy received a clean bill of health, and Day One of White Sox spring training was underway.
Peavy went to his locker and spoke to the media about patience, a word that had never existed in the mans vocabulary until reality struck his body like a lightning bolt last July when the former Cy Young winner tore the lat muscle in the back of his shoulder - a clean rip off the bone.
His season over. His career? Still to be determined.
And yet there was Peavy taking the mound, throwing 40 pitches to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a session Peavy described as free and easy, and added, Were going ahead and feel like Im one of the guys.
Good sign. And then came another.
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Chris Sale is going to be in the bullpen. That was Williams, around five minutes into his media session, announcing that Sale (the perceived Peavy insurance policy), would not be needed in the rotation after all.
Why the quick and sudden turnaround? Heres one reason:
I wanted three lefties (in the bullpen) because there are a few players in the division that get on my nerves, and Im tired of watching them run around the bases, Williams said.
Oh, you mean Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Shin-Soo Choo? Got it.
And heres the other reason: The Sox are quietly and cautiously optimistic that Peavy will be able to return sooner rather than later. Williams even mentioned the possibility of Peavy taking the mound when his first start comes up April 10th... if things went his way.
But considering the severity of the injury and the Sox priority to be very cautious with him, Peavy will more than likely miss the first month of the season (2 or 3 starts), and hopefully be ready by May.
It's our job to make sure that competitive nature doesn't get the best of him, and get him to point where he's doing something more premature than he should," Williams said. "We will watch him closely and be very cautious dealing with him as I explained to him today. Whenever he gets out there we want him at 100 percent. We don't want him to start at 80 percent and then stay at 80 percent because he hasn't given himself that extra three weeks or a month."
Williams cautioned that there could be some blips along the way in Peavys recovery.
"That's obviously not what you want to hear, but I'm going to listen to my body, Peavy said. At the same time, I'm going to push it as hard as I can push it to get back out there. But at the same time, I have to be honest with myself and the staff. I'm excited. I really don't think I'm going to be that far behind."
For a competitor like Peavy, talking over and over again about injuries and not victories has burned the fire inside him even more. But it's also changed his perspective about his baseball career.
"The last few years have been tough for me," Peavy admitted. "To be healthy for eight years in your career and never miss any significant time, and then be traded and miss all the time that I've missed here, it's been frustrating. But at the same time, I have a greater appreciation to be here, to play the game and be healthy when you are healthy."
So White Sox fans, keep your fingers crossed, and believe in the power of healing.
"I have a lot of motivation to get back out there and play, and be who I can be."
He's not close. But closer.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.