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03/14/11 10:10 PM ET
Peavy's ties to Padres remain unbroken
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The uniform on his chest may say White Sox right now, but in some ways Jake Peavy will always be a Padre. He still resides during the offseason in San Diego and this spring, he's staying in nearby Peoria where the San Diego club trains. In the early evening hours, he fishes with former Padres coaches on a bass boat recently acquired for just that purpose. He has had dinner this spring with Bruce Bochy and has run into Bud Black, his former San Diego managers. And during Peavy's rehab and comeback from serious right shoulder surgery, he has sought the counsel of Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. "I enjoyed my time in San Diego and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Padres," he said on Monday after making his third pain-free start of the spring in a 7-6 loss to San Diego at Camelback Ranch. "I was just a 20-year-old kid, getting a chance to play in the Major Leagues and we had some great years there. I won a Cy Young in that town and we made the playoffs twice. It was truly a special time. I have a lot of friends and a lot of ties over there and I certainly pull for those guys." The feeling is mutual. Though Peavy didn't hesitate to add that he's excited to be a member of the White Sox now, his former managers are watching with care and some awe as the right-hander is rebuilding his arm strength in what has become a speedy and very unlikely recovery. His last two starts have been against Bochy's Giants and Black's Padres, men whom Peavy immensely respects.Both fully matured as managers in 2010 when the Giants won the World Series under Bochy and Black was named the National League's Manager of the Year after losing the NL West to San Francisco on the final day of the regular season. On Monday against the Padres, Peavy was knocked around a little bit for the first time this spring, allowing six hits and three runs, including Mike Baxter's two-run homer. Peavy tossed 67 pitches and again showed little effect of experimental surgery last July 14 to reattach the tendon that anchors the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of the shoulder. "He didn't look to me like he'd lost anything," said Black, who replaced Bochy in the Padres dugout after the 2006 season. "It's a tribute to Jake and I'm sure the medical team. I ran into him recently at a restaurant. I know he keeps in close contact with [bullpen coach] Darrel Akerfelds and [bullpen catcher] Justin Hatcher. They keep us informed of what Jake's doing. He'll always be a guy we'll continue to follow. Even though he's with the White Sox, he has a long history as a Padre." "I thought Jake did pretty well against us," Bochy said about Peavy's one-run, two-hit, 3 2/3-inning performance this past Wednesday against the Giants. "I know Jake and he looked like he was throwing free and easy. I didn't think he'd be throwing the ball at this point. It's evident he's worked hard to get where he's at right now. I figured he'd miss part of the season. But the way he's going, he'll probably be able to help the White Sox." San Diego's 15th-round pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, it should be noted that Peavy didn't want to leave the Padres when he was traded just at the end of the July 31, 2009, non-waiver Trade Deadline. He owned a no-trade clause in his extended contract and earlier that season had nixed a deal to the White Sox. But ownership was converting from majority holder John Moores to a group headed by Jeff Moorad, who made it clear that the club could not afford the $63 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Under intense pressure, Peavy relented. Peavy arrived as damaged goods with a tendon injury in his right foot and then, trying to pitch with it, suspects that's why he blew out his shoulder last season. He has made only 20 starts for the White Sox and, barring a setback, is tentatively projected as their No. 5 starter. It's ironic that Peavy says he's healthier now than he's been since winning the National League Cy Young Award and the pitching Triple Crown with 19 wins, a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts during the 2007 season. "I do feel as mechanically sound as I've ever been over here," Peavy said. "I'm as much like that guy in San Diego than I've ever been here in this uniform. So I'm excited about that." Peavy, of course, has worked closely with the White Sox trainers, coaches and conditioning staff. But he says it's natural that while Balsley and the boys are out on the boat he'd ask for advice about how he's doing. Peavy said that wasn't the case when he dined recently with Bochy. "I love Boch and I'm very happy for him. But I'm not going let Boch break me down mechanically," Peavy said with a laugh. "Boch knows his stuff, but if I'm fishing with Darren Balsley at 7 o'clock tonight -- which I will be -- it makes sense to ask what he saw. That's not going over any of our guys' heads. It's just insight that can help. He knows me better than anybody. Those guys saw me for a long time. I'd be a fool not to ask, 'Hey man, what did you see? Did you see anything?'" When the spring is over everyone will go their separate ways. Peavy will ultimately head to Chicago where he will try to resurrect his career. The Padres? They'll be out of sight, but certainly not out of mind.
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Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.