5/7/2013 6:03 P.M. ET
'Thankful' Peavy displays talents in the Fan Cave
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- On the same day that Gavin Floyd was undergoing Tommy John surgery and John Danks was starting a rehab assignment, Jake Peavy was thankful.
Thankful to be playing a guitar set with three of his buddies during Tuesday's visit to the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan, thankful to sink his teeth into video of six or seven Mets games to study the batters' tendencies, thankful Greg Maddux showed him how to do that when they were Padres teammates in 2007, the year Peavy won the National League Cy Young Award.
Thankful for all those times he walks out of ballparks and rides home with his father or grandfather, even though he knows one of them will ask: How could he swing at that ball? Inside he wants to scream when he hears people say things like that, because you can't imagine how hard it is to be in the middle of a mano-a-mano event that takes a fifth of a second, with so much that has to be processed in those 20 seconds or so from pitch to pitch.
Thankful to steer past an out-of-nowhere back spasm that stole his last rotation turn, something he says will not keep him from making his next scheduled start, on Wednesday night at Citi Field. Thankful to be 31 for a few more weeks and feeling he has "a lot of baseball left" and, suddenly, a guy crucial to helping a White Sox club hold together its staff only three years after a muscle fell off his body while delivering a 2-2 pitch to Mike Napoli.
Thankful to be the next probable pitcher.
"Big blow losing Gavin -- we all know how talented he is, what he brings to a ballclub," Peavy said. "Obviously, today he had Tommy John surgery, and [our] thoughts and prayers [are] with him. Gavin's a strong kid. He'll be back. Gavin's got an inner strength and is such a faithful guy in everything he does, workouts and stuff. So Gavin will be back better than ever. Tommy John surgery is nothing nowadays, [although] the recovery process is long.
"He'll be back and he'll be missed. But hopefully, we can get our No. 1 starter from a year ago, John Danks, back after surgery, here before too long. That's going to be a big shot in the arm. We are a team that's built around pitching. We've got to pitch well and hit the long ball to be successful. We've got to catch the ball a little better than we've caught, play better defense. So to be only four or so games under .500, as badly as we feel like we've played, we're excited. We're just waiting for that big hit or that big pitch to turn us around and get us going."
Peavy went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in April, with 39 strikeouts and just six walks. He has been a bright spot for Chicago, carrying over a 2012 form that returned him to the All-Star Game and helped him surpass 200 innings like in those Padres days.
"These last few years for me have been as gratifying as any I've had in baseball," he said. "You take your health for granted. It's just part of being young, maybe. You just don't ever think about it. Some of the stuff, taking care of yourself, we all say, 'I wish I knew now what I knew then.'
"You go through so much, I can't even explain to you the thought that I had of not playing the game of baseball. To prepare for that to be reality was tough. So to come back and be able to play and be a factor on a team and to be wanted is amazing enough. I feel like I've got a lot of baseball ahead of me."
Peavy said that last year's Midsummer Classic was like his "first time" -- like that day in Detroit in 2005, when he had 30-some-odd family and friends with him, so many people piled into that pickup truck that wound around Comerica Park during the inaugural All-Star Game Red Carpet Show parade. "We were like the 'Beverly Hillbillies,'" he remembered with a laugh.
"I had made a few All-Star Games, but getting the chance to go last year, after the injuries and after all the stuff you go through, wondering if you're ever going to play again, to be back and be selected to an All-Star team was so thrilling," he said. "Hopefully, we can do those things for many more years.
"You never quit learning. I watched Chris Sale [on Monday] and learned so much, watching somebody who's 10 years younger than me and a lot less experienced. You've always got to learn."
Peavy's late "Paw Paw," Blanche, used to point his index fingers toward grandson Jake's temples and tell him to "focus" and not let anyone else in his head. It is something little Jake never forgot, a reason he always writes the letters "BP" along with a scripture under the bill of his cap. Focus. It is why he is still here.
"When you get to the big leagues, the talent pool is on such a level playing field, you have to find a way to separate yourself from incredibly talented guys," he said. "Especially when you go through the injuries that I've had, you come back and you might not physically be able to do some of the things you used to do. You can't throw quite as hard.
"You have to do the other things. That's why the Gold Glove meant so much to me last year, because you try to take the aspects of your game that you can't control to another level and focus. I remember as a kid, my grandfather would grab my temples and say, 'You've got to focus, Jake, you've got to focus.' We've all seen 10-year-olds running around playing the game; it's hard for a 10-year-old to focus on anything for too long.
"That'll be something that's in my mind [on Wednesday] night, a focus that you have to have to succeed at this level. To be in the game, and every pitch, and processing all of what's happening is intense. It's something I'll try to do better than the other guy and have a real advantage."
During his time in the Fan Cave, Peavy played guitar along with his high school friend Tyler Reeve, plus friends Stevie Monse and Channing Wilson. They taped videos that will be posted at MLBFanCave.com in coming days -- definitely worth a listen. Wilson sounds like Toby Keith, maybe better.
"When you're around Peavy," Wilson said, "he inspires you to bring your 'A' game."
Peavy was thankful for the hour or so with his friends, and always brings his guitar just in case. He is thankful for a chance to host the second annual Jake Peavy's Ultimate Country Music and Baseball Raffle, which was just launched on whitesox.com, benefiting his charitable foundation.
"It's just always fun giving back," he said. "It's all about honoring the people that we lost who were dear to us. We have been so fortunate. The team around me has put together some great events in the past, and we've got another one coming up here June 23; we're going to have a concert. I'm going to bring in music buddies from all over who are going to play some music there at Joe's Bar on Weed Street in Chicago.
"We're going to raise as much money as we can. It's going to be a fun night, full of music, all different types of music from all different types of artists as well. We're going to have some of my teammates up there singing, we're going to have aspiring guys paying their dues coming up and playing, songwriters, and we're going to have an artist or two show up and make the night. I'm so blessed just to be able to give back."
On days like this, preparing for his next start, he is mostly thankful.