Sox lose, but another positive step for Peavy

Sox lose, but another positive step for Peavy
March 9, 2011, 9:12 pm
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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.