CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy appears headed for a big league return with the White Sox during the last weekend of April at U.S. Cellular Field.
The right-hander has another rehab start scheduled for Monday with Double-A Birmingham, where he has a target of 90-95 pitches. Peavy moves on to pitch for Triple-A Charlotte next Saturday, viewing that start as something akin to what would be his last Spring Training effort, where he gets the pitch count up around 110.
Those two starts leave Peavy in line to return to the club on April 28, the last day of an 11-game White Sox road trip against Tampa Bay, Detroit and New York. Based on Peavy's comments Saturday, following a 34-pitch side session in the White Sox bullpen, he'll be facing Baltimore at home either on April 29 or 30.
"I'm not sure when they are going to slot me in," Peavy said. "An extra day or two certainly wouldn't hurt any which way. Just figure out the best spot."
If the White Sox rotation stays the same as it's presently laid out, John Danks would be on target for that fourth and final game at Yankee Stadium. Phil Humber would open the six-game homestand on April 29, and Gavin Floyd would pitch on April 30.
Peavy could take Humber's spot, sending Humber back into a long-relief role. But pitching coach Don Cooper spoke last Sunday about employing a six-man rotation occasionally when Peavy returns, giving his starters an important extra day of rest.
Moving Peavy to April 30 means the club's entire five-man rotation would pitch once before an off-day on May 5. Peavy also would get an entire week between his last Minor League start with Charlotte and his Major League return.
Through two Minor League rehab starts, Peavy has an 0-1 record with a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. Peavy posted a no-decision for Charlotte against Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, giving up two runs on eight hits over six innings, while striking out four and not issuing a walk. More importantly, Peavy threw 57 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
Most importantly, Peavy continues to feel normal on the mound and during his work between starts.
"'Normal' is a good word and that's the word that has been used and the way I feel," Peavy said. "I do feel like I'm getting there. I feel like I'm coming out of Spring Training. I feel like I'm starting to get a good feel for my pitches, feel stronger than I had earlier when I was pitching during regular Spring Training.
"We just pushed it a little too hard. I don't think anyone is at fault for that. We worked so hard and tried to push so hard. I wanted to make this team out of Spring Training and be with the boys. My body wasn't quite ready.
"Now, everything feels great," Peavy said. "The soreness we do have is normal soreness from the wear and tear you do have when you start."
Prior to this stretch of rehab starts, Peavy last pitched on March 19 against the A's in Phoenix. He was shut down the next day with what was described as rotator cuff tendinitis.
This sort of blip on the comeback trail was expected as Peavy tried to return after experimental surgery on July 14, 2010 to reattach the tendon that anchors the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of the shoulder. In fact, Dr. Anthony Romeo, who performed the surgery, told Peavy a return by July would leave him ahead of schedule.
At this point, Peavy is more than satisfied with a target date of April 29 or 30.
"I'm excited to pitch, but I guess I'm at ease with the plan," said Peavy, who received clearance to stay in Birmingham, Ala., and do his work there while the White Sox are in St. Petersburg, Fla., for a four-game set this week. "In times past, I would be saying, 'I'm throwing six innings, 90 pitches. Why can't I do that here?'
"Part of me wants to say that, but I'm doing what I'm asked to do and told to do and happy to do that. I'm at peace with the starts Monday and Saturday, and if they think I'm ready after those two, and I certainly think I will be, I can't see me not starting."