Peavy convincing while battling flu
Righty stays on pace to make White Sox Opening Day roster
PHOENIX -- As media members circled around Jake Peavy's locker following his 5 2/3 innings pitched on Saturday during an 8-3 loss to the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the White Sox right-hander made one simple request.
"You guys don't mind if I sit down to do this," said Peavy, seated in a chair with his right shoulder and right elbow wrapped.
After battling a stomach virus since Tuesday, Peavy might have been better off lying down to do the interview.
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"I'm not far from it," said Peavy with a laugh.
The flu could not stop Peavy from his appointed rounds, as his fourth Cactus League start was his deepest outing in terms of both innings and pitches. Peavy finished with a flourish in the sixth, striking out Hideki Matsui swinging and Conor Jackson looking, after allowing Josh Willingham's leadoff single.
Peavy gave up seven hits and three earned runs, employing less than his best stuff, and he struck out three without issuing a walk. Staying on schedule Saturday means Peavy remains set to make Thursday afternoon's start in Mesa, Ariz., against the Cubs and then one more spring outing on March 29, most likely against Minor League opponents.
Saturday's 83-pitch performance, with 56 going for strikes, also means Peavy stays firmly on track to start the 2011 season as the White Sox fifth starter, facing the Royals in Kansas City on April 6. Both manager Ozzie Guillen and catcher A.J. Pierzynski supported Peavy in that theory, believing the right-hander will be on the mound in a regular-season game just nine months after he underwent experimental surgery on July 14 to reattach the tendon that anchors the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of the shoulder.
"I don't see why not," said Guillen, as to whether Peavy should break camp with the team. "Obviously, we have another start left, the last game in camp. Two more. We'll see how he feels. Right now, he has made progress to be on the ballclub. If everything goes the way it has gone so far, I'm having him on the ballclub."
"Every time out, it seems like he has thrown better," Pierzynski said. "It's good -- it's a positive sign. If he's not ready to start the season, I don't know why, unless he has some major setback. He looks as ready as can be to be in our rotation every fifth day."
Onetime White Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney delivered the biggest hit off Peavy, knocking a 3-1 pitch out to left-center for a two-run home run in the third. Peavy acknowledged that Sweeney made good contact on that pitch, but the right-hander also pointed out that he's throwing strikes during Spring Training.
Four broken-bat singles in the fourth led to Oakland's third run against Peavy. He also pitched out of further trouble by inducing Mark Ellis and Landon Powell fly balls to center with two runners on base. And remember, this work was all done with Peavy having been out of action for much of the last four days since his Monday start.
"It was about what I expected," said Peavy of his performance. "I just didn't try to do too much. I tried to get my work in, tried to stay on schedule. I've certainly had my better days and felt better, but we got through it. I was just changing speeds a little bit and got some balls hit at people."
"For what he's been through the past couple of days with the stomach ache and all that, he could have finished the sixth," Pierzynski said. "He looked strong. He climbed as the game went, and he threw the ball well. Every single time he starts, he gets better and better. He's on the right track, and that's what we like to see."
There were some aches felt by Peavy in his shoulder at the start of Saturday's start, which he readily admitted to the media after the game and spoke of to White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider. When Peavy was asked by Schneider what the aches meant, Peavy explained how his whole body felt achy.
But as Peavy pitched deeper into Saturday's game, his whole body "got oiled up a little bit." Peavy and his shoulder actually felt better over the last couple of innings as compared to the first two.
"You get loose," Peavy said. "I would be willing to say my velocity was a little bit better later than it was earlier.
"We'll see how it feels tomorrow and the next few days. I want to pitch and be ready for that fifth start in Kansas City, and we'll see if that plays out. That's my goal right now."
A primary goal for Peavy on Saturday was to get some nourishment in the form of food and fluids before sleeping for 10-12 hours. Otherwise, it is business as usual. Peavy has a heavy work day on Sunday, a bullpen session on Monday and a 100-pitch target for Thursday against the Cubs, as his remarkable March climb continues.
"We were prepared for him to come out and not be able to make it, but I'm pretty pleased with how he got his work done," Guillen said. "He pitched very, very well."
"There were people who didn't want me to [pitch on Saturday] and people who wanted me to," Peavy said. "I was one of those guys who wanted to stay on schedule. I knew you weren't going to see me [giving] 110 percent, like I have at times. I was in survival mode -- just get my work in."