Peavy’s return by opening day doubtful

By Etheria Modacure

Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy was on the mound in the top of the second inning on July 6, 2010. He threw a 2-2 pitch to Los Angeles Angels catcher Mike Napoli. The pitch was off the plate, but something else went wrong: Peavy detached his right shoulder muscle.

After undergoing surgery, Peavy’s season was finished. His return to the pitching rotation by opening day is doubtful depending on whom you ask. If he does return by April 1, it would be nine months since he last pitched.

If it were up to general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen, Peavy wouldn’t return until he proves he can pitch effectively.

Having a deep rotation and a first round draft pick pitching in the bullpen, the White Sox have options. Peavy, on the other hand, said he believes he should be ready by the opening day.

Peavy worked out during the off-season and recently had a soft throwing session in San Diego, the site of his former team the Padres. He said he has completed a rehabilitating throwing program that the White Sox training staff and surgeons collaborated on.

“We sat down with the training staff and the surgeons who did my surgery and even doctors who wanted to [provide] their own input,” Peavy said on a conference call. “We came up with this throwing program; I completed that at the end of January.”

He said he normally does a throwing routine to get himself prepared for a season, going into spring training. Peavy acknowledged it’s been tougher this off-season due to his shoulder rehabilitation and keeping a daily strength-building regime for his pitching arm.

When Peavy detached his right latissimus dorsi muscle last summer, he was riding a 3-2 record in June and posted two scoreless performances against the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, in which he pitched a complete-game shutout.

This came after a dismal season start where he posted three consecutive no-decisions and didn’t notch his first victory until May 3 against the Kansas City Royals.

With a pitching staff already decked with starters John Danks, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson, the White Sox have reason to be patient with Peavy’s return.

Danks had his best season in the majors in 2010, posting 15 victories for the first time in his young career. He also pitched a career-high 213 innings while displaying a 3.72 ERA that surpassed all other starters.

Jackson, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 in exchange for pitcher Daniel Hudson, had four victories in a White Sox uniform with two losses and a 3.24 ERA. Jackson pitched a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 25, 2010.

“On paper, we have a great pitching staff and I don’t think they pitched the way we thought they would pitch at the end of the season,” said Guillen at Soxfest on Jan. 21. “I’m waiting for Peavy [to return], we’re not going to rush him.  We’re going to take it easy with him and make sure when he’s back, he’s back for good.”

Guillen said he believes pitching will be crucial for the team’s success this season. He reiterated his pitching staff would consist of strong pitchers for his team’s opening day rotation against the Cleveland Indians.

One possibility for the White Sox could be starting their first round pick from last year’s draft, Chris Sale. He was promoted to the White Sox after four games in Single-A and seven games in Triple-A ball.

Sale was used as a reliever last season, but could be in the starting rotation if Peavy doesn’t return by early April.

“I don’t know [about starting Sale],” Guillen said. “I’ve got to see with Williams; I’ve got to see what our plans are. I would love to have him in the bullpen but I don’t know what we will need. This kid has good stuff. I think it’s going to be exciting no matter where we pitch him.”

Williams said during Soxfest that he doesn’t want Sale to prepare for the starters role because he isn’t guaranteed a spot in the rotation. He said it wouldn’t be fair for Sale to get that mental preparation and not be a starter. He wouldn’t be an effective reliever after the mental training as a starter.

With a subpar 2010 White Sox campaign, 7-6 4.63 ERA, and critics debating whether the trade for Peavy would be beneficial, the Alabama native is ambitious as he heads into the 2011 season.

“I’ve got a ton of motivation for a lot of reasons—to show to myself and a lot of people that I hopefully have a lot of baseball years left,” Peavy said. “I really feel like I have a lot to give and I’m going to push it. It’s just frustrating to sit on the sideline and watch such a talented group     play like we have.”