Peavy feels health is no longer an issue

Peavy feels health is no longer an issue
March 3, 2013, 5:15 pm
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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy’s early work this spring is centered on fastball command and little else.

The White Sox starter couldn’t be happier that’s where his focus lies after all of the health issues he faced in his first 2 1/2 seasons on the South Side.

Peavy made his first start on Sunday and got hit pretty well -- three earned runs and five hits in three innings -- but it’s not because his stuff lacks.

It had more to do with an aggressive approach by San Diego Padres hitters, who swung at nine of 15 first pitches they saw from Peavy, who threw mostly fastballs in a 44-pitch outing.

“This is the first time I’m free from that,” Peavy said. “It’s not in the back of my head. You have no idea what the future holds -- I may go out tomorrow and my elbow could blow up, that’s the risk we all take. But I think the numbers velocity wise today proves that to a lot of guys around camp. I had a little bit more than I had at any point all of last year. That’s a nice sign for me and something to build on, and you have to keep getting stronger.”

Peavy’s fastball sat between 89-93 mph throughout his three innings, according to one scout who noted the right-hander’s stuff was “much better than results.” One White Sox coach even counted a few 94-mph fastballs, a number Peavy didn’t come close to reaching in spring last season.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the way Peavy -- who signed a two-year, $29-million extension this offseason -- has thrown has given the coaching staff confidence he’s healthy.

“He hasn’t been tentative at all,” Ventura said. “He knows how to work and get his pitches in, but just as far as health-wise this year is a lot different for him coming in and doing his work. I don’t look at it as though we have questions either of health. Whatever happened today was more of him getting his work in and getting out there. That was the best part today was he got out there and got it started.”

Peavy --- who went 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in a team-high 219 innings in 2012 ---walked one batter but struck out two in the few instances where he used an offspeed pitch.

He knows he could have had better results had his focus been on pitching. But his first goal is to establish fastball command and now that he feels free and clear of shoulder issues he won’t compromise his plans.

“I feel as healthy as I’ve felt for a long time,” Peavy said. “What it translates into, who knows. But it’s a nice place to be compared to last year when you’re wondering if you’ll come close to being the same guy. It was nice to go into the training room and be normal, just for a cool down.”


Flowers starts at DH


The White Sox pitchers aren’t the only ones who the team plans to bring along slowly this spring. Tyler Flowers played in only his fourth game, but was limited to at-bats only as the designated hitter. Ventura said the team isn’t concerned about Flowers behind the plate and wants to get other catchers innings.

But Flowers also knows it has to do with the way bench coach Mark Parent wants to help him manage his energy this season. Flowers has noted how Parent makes sure to give him rides throughout camp on the golf cart so he doesn’t have to lug his bag full of equipment all over the complex.

“He goes out of his way to do other things above and beyond because he knows what it’s like the day in, the day out, the stupid stuff,” Flowers said. “Carrying your bag a quarter-mile down there, the little things. Those are a lot of things he takes care of us on, which is must appreciated.”


Ramirez returns


Alexei Ramirez returned to the club and the lineup after a four-day absence for family-related issues. Ramirez, who has only played in three of the team’s first eight games, went 0-for-3.

“I don’t know how many innings he has played,” Ventura said. “Him being gone, today was to get him back in there. I’m not worried about him.”