When Jake Peavy joined the White Sox in a trade from the San Diego Padres on July 31, 2009, he was unable to pitch for almost two months because of an ankle injury.
In 2010 Peavy missed most of the final three months after detaching his latissimus dorsi muscle.
In 2011 Peavy made it back to the mound in May following the radical surgery, but he wound up back on the disabled list in June with a strained right adductor and was an overall shadow of his old self.
Last season Peavy made 32 starts, his most since 2007, but his health history seemed to outweigh his performance on the field.
This year it’s back to all baseball all the time for the Sox’ 31-year-old starter, and that just happens to be Peavy’s favorite topic.
When he starts the second game of the season Wednesday against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field, look for Peavy to exhale a huge sigh of relief before making his pitch to Kansas City leadoff man Alex Gordon.
“I’m excited,” Peavy said. “I feel as healthy as I have since I’ve been here. I know you guys are sick of hearing me say that, but I do feel as back as I could be. I do feel like my stuff’s a little better than it was last year, so we’ll see what that translates into. But it’s a nice feeling to have.”
Following Chris Sale in the rotation is not an easy task, especially when you consider the White Sox’ new ace was overpowering in Monday’s season opener against the Royals.
But a healthy Peavy is no slouch himself, and he showed that last season while going 11-12 and ranking third in the American League in quality starts (23) and complete games (4), fifth in innings pitched (219), eighth in strikeouts (194) and ninth in ERA (3.37).
“Last year, you set out to prove that you’re healthy,” Peavy said. “I’m sure that everybody out there is going: ‘When’s it going to happen, the breakdown?’ I hope those days are behind me now.
“I do have some mileage, and we don’t know what the future holds, but I’m going to do everything I can do to stay healthy.
“And like I said, I do feel my stuff’s a little bit better than it has been at any point in my time here. And I hope to fall right in behind Chris and be a top-of-the-rotation guy.”
In spring training Peavy was throwing his fastball at 93-94, a few mph higher than last season. His slider also had the old bite from his days in San Diego.
Projected No. 3 starter John Danks (shoulder) still has a ways to go before he’s ready to rejoin the rotation, but the Sox’ entire pitching staff looks solid.
“Only time will tell, but I think we have as much talent as any staff as I’ve ever been on,” Peavy said. “And I think we can match up with anybody in the league, 1 through 12. I love the youth paired with the veteran leadership that we have.
“I think we have a little bit of everything. I love the right-lefty balance, with three righties in the rotation to start, waiting on John Danks to get back at some point in time. If he can come back and be a top-of-the-rotation guy, it’d be a huge shot in the arm.
“I love the 12 guys we have here, and we love ourselves on paper. But at the end of the day you’ve got to go out and prove it to everybody else.”
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