CHICAGO -- Near the end of Jake Peavy's 30-minute conference call Tuesday to discuss his recovery status after undergoing season-ending surgery last July 14, a muffled voice came in with a message for the White Sox right-hander.
After Peavy tried but failed on two occasions to decipher what was being said, White Sox director of media relations Bob Beghtol informed Peavy it was manager Ozzie Guillen who had jumped on the call.
"You better be ready for Spring Training or I'm going to get fired," was the tongue-in-cheek sentiment expressed by Guillen.
Peavy chuckled at Guillen's attempt to have a little fun. For starters, Guillen isn't going anywhere with the White Sox having picked up his 2012 contractual option. But the focus of the call was where the White Sox hurler stands following the rare procedure to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder.
The unseasonable cold in San Diego, with temperatures dipping to a frigid 68 degrees, according to Peavy, certainly hasn't doused his competitive fire. He wants to be back with the White Sox for Opening Day in Cleveland on April 1, but will listen to the higher-ups in the organization, the trainers, the doctors and his body before coming to that decision.
"To answer that question right now in the best way, well, it's tough for me," said the 29-year-old Peavy on his thoughts of being part of the Opening Day starting rotation. "This winter has been a tough winter, a different winter, with no down time.
"Every day, I've been in rehab or going through my throwing program. I've pushed it as much as I can, while listening to my body not doing anything to jeopardize the chance to get me back.
"I want to come into camp and be ready for Opening Day like the other guys," Peavy said. "What we are going to do is have an MRI and let our doctors look at it and evaluate where we are from there."
That throwing program set up for Peavy began Nov. 1 and was completed in January. Peavy explained that input on the best recovery path came from White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, the doctors who performed the surgery and even other doctors not involved in the surgery. With no real prior recovery timetable set because of the scarcity of this injury, Peavy was open to all ideas.
Prior to his Tuesday media chat, Peavy threw a 40-pitch session off the mound featuring fastballs and changeups. It was preceded by long toss from up to 120 feet. The plan is for Peavy to throw off the mound again on Friday and then the Monday three days before White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 17.
Going through the work off the mound, even at 60 or 70 percent, by Peavy's estimation, certainly has erased any doubts in Peavy's mind about letting loose without fear of an injury recurrence. Now, it's a matter of building up arm strength.
"It's taking longer than I would expect to get my arm strength back, but I don't think anybody's arm strength is there at this point," said Peavy, who had to find his arm slot again while working in November and December, instead of just easing back into throwing. "I hope Spring Training builds that up. Past that, I don't have any hesitation.
"By mid-March, I better have good arm strength. If I get to the end of camp and I can't throw the ball 90 mph, then it's time to worry."
Pain or soreness for Peavy has been limited to the normal level expected when any pitcher starts to prepare for Spring Training. But otherwise, Peavy seemed upbeat as always and on the right track to return.
Because of the injury, Peavy will spend more time stretching and getting loose before throwing off the mound. Peavy was previously much like Mark Buehrle, in that he could throw for 10 minutes and not be any looser than he was at that point.
Studying video also will be incorporated into Peavy's return, ensuring his mechanics are at the right place. Video work helped Peavy turn a miserable April in 2010 into an improved May and a 1.75 ERA in June, before suffering the injury during a contest against the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field on July 6.
In answer to his manager's Tuesday quip, Peavy told Guillen he was ready to go and talked about how he was "busting my rear" all offseason to get prepared for Spring Training. More will be known about Peavy's status after the MRI, but Peavy appears to viewing this upcoming Spring Training not very differently from his past 10 or so.
"He's adamant how he wants to be like everyone else and do what everyone else is doing," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Peavy. "He wants to be around everybody."
"I'll be the ring leader, trying to push and be ready as soon as possible," Peavy said. "Some of those guys will play devil's advocate, but hopefully we can find a happy medium that is not going to jeopardize anything or lead to a setback."