GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The daily updates concerning Jake Peavy's well-being now have become somewhat like the Chicago weather forecast during late winter or early spring.
If today's report isn't to your liking, wait until tomorrow. The news just might get better.
And the news for the White Sox right-hander was about as upbeat as could be expected on Wednesday. Peavy was examined by Dr. Anthony Romeo, who performed the experimental surgery on July 14 to reattach the tendon that anchors the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of Peavy's shoulder. The discomfort Peavy has been feeling in that area since his last start on March 19 in Phoenix was nothing structural and just the blip on the radar everyone in the organization expected during this comeback.
This piece of information was so positive that general manager Ken Williams still would not completely rule out Peavy from breaking camp with the team and being part of the opening rotation. It's unlikely, at this point, but nothing seems to be impossible with Peavy's unique situation.
"I don't want to use any absolute terms, simply because this is Jake Peavy, and he has pushed and worked his tail off to get to this point," said Williams, speaking to the media during Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. "From what I understand now, the medicine that he is taking is similar to any kind of medicines he would be taking even if he didn't have the lat issue, and it is working on him.
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"Depending upon what kind of plan we put into play, and how long that will be, we can't shut him down from what I've been told. He's got to work through some things," Williams said. "But whether he will be ready or not is a big question mark."
Peavy's comeback odyssey has taken a few strange twists and turns since the start of Spring Training but primarily over the past five days. The timetable for Peavy originally was thought to be a June or May return to the rotation, until Peavy had other ideas.
His intense offseason work program and focus put him months ahead of schedule, and it showed as Peavy steadily climbed in pitch count and effectiveness from Cactus league start to start. The problem for Peavy centered on not bouncing back as he wanted between appearances.
Throw in a miserable case of the flu, sapping him of work in between his last two starts, and a brief public questioning as to whether Peavy or the White Sox were calling the shots in regard to whether he was pitching through pain, and this bout of rotator cuff tendinitis probably caused more of an uproar than necessary. Peavy reiterated on Wednesday that he has told the White Sox everything he has been feeling in each trip to the mound, and the decisions were then made after a meeting of the minds.
Williams anticipated this setback and mentioned it during his first Spring Training meeting with the press on Feb. 17, so he was surprised by the attention it received. The lat muscle works as a decelerator, as explained by Williams, and helps a pitcher stop and gather himself. In the course of a rehab, when an individual pushes to a higher pitch limit, as Peavy has, there is going to be greater stress placed on the shoulder.
That stress produced one trouble spot on the back of the shoulder, which is responding to medicine, according to Williams. It shows the problem is not structural, and that no red flags should be waved.
"It's nothing different besides what we talked about before we came here," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the Peavy diagnosis. "Hopefully, he'll be ready when we put him out there, without setbacks."
"At the same time, we've got to be careful and always monitor the progress because last year we thought the same thing after some MRIs, so we're going to make sure we're going to stay on top of it," Peavy said. "That's the bottom line. Things can change day to day when you're coming off a major surgery and you're feeling the stuff we're feeling."
Factoring in the Peavy setback, Williams said the White Sox will break camp with 12 pitchers. That decision leaves Phil Humber or Jeff Marquez as the fifth starter, the second of these hurlers working in long relief, and Brent Lillibridge and Lastings Milledge fighting for one position player slot -- a decision likely to be made by Monday. Williams also said the temporary fifth starter will be filled by Humber or Marquez and not from someone off the waiver wire.
There doesn't seem to be a feeling of Peavy being down and out for a prolonged period. The only reason he was shut down this week was to err on the side of caution and make sure there was no structural damage. As Peavy pointed out Wednesday, if he can get on the mound this weekend, it's really like he missed just one start.
Then again, there's nothing predictable about this first-of-its-kind surgery and the recovery. It could be bright sunshine for Peavy today, but a more cloudy outlook in a day or two.
"What people don't realize, and I know you guys think every day we're telling you it's day to day, well, nobody has done this before," Peavy said. "No one has a blueprint.
"Stephen Strasburg, my buddy, has a blueprint and he can tell you what he's doing three weeks from now. I can't. I don't know. We're feeling our way through it with a lot of guys' opinions and ideas about things. I know you guys get tired of sitting here every day and us piecing it together, but that's what we're doing as a staff and me as a player."