SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Look up the word perfectionist in the dictionary, and Jake Peavy's picture will be next to the definition.
That comment wouldn't be quite true. OK, actually it's a flat-out exaggeration.
But it's that quest to be perfect with every pitch that left Peavy infinitely upbeat but not quite satisfied following his Cactus League effort covering 3 2/3 innings against the Giants on Wednesday afternoon.
Peavy was perfect through three innings and was cruising along so nicely that he had to work out of the stretch in the fourth just to get some practice in that area. This particular brand of damage inflicted by Peavy, with him giving up one run on one hit, was done against the everyday lineup for the defending World Series champions to be employed against right-handed hurlers.
Each step back for Peavy from last July's season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon connecting the latissimus dorsi muscle to the bone in his right shoulder brings about cautious optimism. Peavy perfectly expressed that sentiment as he sat in the visitors' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium, with an icepack strapped to his right shoulder.
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"Today wasn't as free and easy as the other day," said Peavy, comparing Wednesday to his 26-pitch showing as part of his Cactus League debut last Friday against the Angels in Tempe. "It was certainly a lot of work to get ready, but my body did all we asked it to do.
"I wasn't 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 our ultimate goal and that's to break camp with the team."
Peavy mixed in somewhere around five changeups, five cutters and five breaking balls, by his guess, with his fastball repertoire, arriving at a pitch count of 31 strikes among his total of 49. The opposition hadn't touched Peavy for a Cactus League hit over 5 2/3 innings until Aubrey Huff's two-out home run on a 1-2 pitch in the fourth.
That cutter to Huff was the same pitch Peavy used to fan Andres Torres leading off the bottom of the first.
"Aubrey Huff hit a pretty good pitch," said Peavy with a smile. "I think it was off the plate."
A perfect three innings for Peavy ended on Huff's home run down the right-field line. His day ended one batter later, after issuing a walk to Buster Posey. Although he didn't get a velocity reading, Peavy felt in general his speed was down a tick from Friday because there wasn't the same adrenaline involved in making that first post-surgery start.
Velocity didn't seem to matter much to manager Ozzie Guillen or catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who were both impressed by Peavy's showing. Pierzynski actually feels Peavy was better in this second Spring Training start.
"He threw the ball great," Pierzynski said. "I told him that his slider was as good as I've seen it in the last two years. His control was there. He was a little bit off, but Jake is a perfectionist and if he doesn't throw every single pitch where he wants it, he gets mad. I don't really care how hard he was throwing. He was getting guys out."
"You're all pumped up and want to be on the mound with the first outing, but I didn't expect him to throw this well today," Guillen said. "The second outing for me was very important. He handled it very well. Every day this kid goes out there before the season starts, it's a great day for us and all the effort and hard work he put up."
Next up for Peavy will be his first home Cactus League start, coming against the Padres at Camelback Ranch on Monday. The plan is to keep Peavy on his regular five-day rotation, as long as he continues to avoid any sort of setback.
Guillen could have pulled Peavy before Huff's home run but let him stay out because the pitch count was so manageable. The target for Monday will be for Peavy to go four innings, if not more, as he continues to build on this amazing return just eight months after his painful injury.
"We have a lot of work to do, staying on top of the shoulder and staying strong," said Peavy, who had a knot in his right hamstring worked on before this start. "Every bit of ice and therapy we can possibly get just so there is no leaf unturned, so we have done all we can to stay healthy and be on field.
"One of the things we're going to monitor is 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. We did that.
"It was a lot of work but we got there. We hope that continues to be the case," Peavy said. "We're going to have typical soreness and we're probably going to go through that dead-arm period. But we're on the up and up."
As was the case last Saturday, the biggest test for Peavy will be how he rebounds Thursday. Perfection is not the issue, as much as feeling strong enough to make continued progress.
"I don't want to get excited. I don't," Guillen said. "But out of all the guys, he throws the ball the best right now."
"We need him and we need him to be healthy," said Pierzynski of Peavy. "But we need him healthy for the whole season -- not just for Spring Training."