Peavy happy to join White Sox
Veteran starter hopes to return to action by late August
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy sat down behind a table at the U.S. Cellular Field Conference and Learning Center on Saturday afternoon, looking out at 30 or so Chicago reporters, a couple of handfuls of members of the White Sox front office, and Spike Lee, who walked in halfway through Peavy's 14-minute news conference.
With his opening statement, the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner closed one important chapter of his baseball career and started on a new Midwestern journey.
"I've never been more happy to be in a place where they're committed to winning," said Peavy during Saturday's introductory news conference, after the White Sox acquired the right-hander from San Diego just seconds before Friday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"[White Sox general manager] Kenny [Williams] and his staff have made that very clear to me," Peavy continued. "I feel honored to put this uniform on with the other great players I just had a chance to meet in that clubhouse."
In order to obtain Peavy's services for what looks like the last month of the 2009 season and over the next three years, the White Sox had to give up top young arms such as Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter and Adam Russell. It's a risk Williams and the organization were willing to take, even with Peavy out of action since June 9 with a strained tendon in his right ankle, because of Peavy's dynamic presence on the mound and the strength he brings within the entire starting rotation.
Williams said on Friday that Peavy was so excited about the trade, which includes the same components as the proposed deal with the Padres back on May 20, that he couldn't get him off the phone. That enthusiasm for joining the White Sox, not to mention Peavy's competitive nature, was abundantly evident on Saturday.
"I'm just going to do all I can do," said Peavy, who has a 92-68 record with a 3.29 ERA over 212 career starts. "There can't be any more pressure than I put on myself, is the way I look at it. I promise you, there's nobody that is a bigger critic or puts any more pressure on me than myself. I expect the best. I expect to win, every time out.
"I understand there are going to be tough days, but I can promise you this -- and I promised Kenny on the phone -- that every five days I get the ball, I'm going to be mentally and physically prepared to take the ball. I'm going to go out there for as long as [White Sox manager] Ozzie [Guillen] lets me have the ball and empty the tank. I'm going to give 150 percent. When I walk off the field, I'm going to know that I did everything I possibly could to help the White Sox win."
As far as Peavy's current health status, he said the itch to return just got turned up a notch, moving from last place into a race for the American League Central title. Peavy's injury is exacerbated more by running the bases, meaning he should be fine, pitching-wise, once he's healthy enough to return.
Peavy has been walking and running pain-free, although he has not done anything side to side. He has been throwing off of flat ground and will begin throwing off a mound in the next day or so. After Saturday's game against the Yankees, Peavy planned to sit down with the White Sox staff to map out a full rehab plan.
But coming back by late August is entirely within the realm of Peavy's possibility.
"Physically, the ankle feels fine; it's just a little bit weak," Peavy said. "Simply being in a boot for six weeks will make the calf muscle and stuff like that weak. And the arm -- same way; I didn't throw a ball.
"So I'm just trying to get arm strength and get back and make a couple of rehab starts to try to get on top of my game, because everybody knows when you take a couple of months off, you're not going to be as sharp and as good as you are when you're in midseason form. But I wouldn't be surprised in the next three weeks, four weeks, to certainly be out on the field, trying to help this ballclub win."
Back in May, Williams thought he had made a good enough sales pitch to get Peavy to waive his no-trade clause and join the White Sox. But on May 21, the same day Minnesota claimed a 20-1 home victory over the White Sox, Peavy decided the time was not right to leave San Diego.
Since that point, the Padres had faded to 20 games under .500 and 22 1/2 games out in the National League West, while the White Sox find themselves at the center of the playoff hunt with the Tigers and Twins. Peavy also wanted to avoid going through another offseason filled with crazy trade rumors, much like the months leading up to the 2009 campaign, so he said yes to Williams and the move away from the only baseball home Peavy and his family had ever known.
"Am I going to miss San Diego? Absolutely," Peavy said. "I knew this day would come -- being traded out -- with the direction the team was going. I'm glad it's here sooner than later, and we can get on and start playing baseball and worry about the one thing on our mind, which is winning."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.