GLENDALE, Ariz. – At 190 pounds, Jake Peavy came to camp 10 pounds lighter than last season. He needed to make things easier on his surgically repaired right ankle and his right groin.
He also stood before Âcameras and microphones on the day White Sox pitchers and catchers reported for spring training with the weight of a surgically re-attached lat muscle not weighing down his body and mind.
“My winter was outstanding,” Peavy said. “To not have to go through a major injury rehabilitation. It was huge, it was fun. It was a good winter. The shoulder and stuff looks real good. I’m excited to get started. Today is a fun day.”
Oozing with typical first-day optimism and enjoying the vibe and anticipation that comes with a new manager, Peavy is eager to test his body now that it’s a year and a half from the lat surgery. He said he would be “deeply disappointed” if he doesn’t make 30 starts.
“I feel as healthy as I can possibly be on this day from top to bottom,” said Peavy, who battled through 111â€‰2/3 innings last season before finally giving in to arm fatigue. “I don’t know what that is. I look forward to staying that way and not talking about health, talking about baseball.
“It’s the first time I’ve been like this for a lot of springs to not have to answer injury questions. I hope we don’t talk about any more of that, just we talk about baseball.”
It was suggested to Peavy, who is in the final year of a contract that pays him a team-high $17 million in 2012 (the club has a $22 million option with a $4 million buyout in 2013), that the Sox might go as far as the former Cy Young winner takes them. That’s a stretch, but Peavy is the only pitcher in the group of big-money players who need to bounce back after sub-standard performances for the Sox to contend in their division.
“I will play a role but it’s going to have to be a group Âeffort,” Peavy said. “We’re going to have to have guys bounce back, myself included. Guys who have done big things at this level, and if we bounce back with good team effort we will compete. Everybody is talking about Detroit as they should be – Detroit won the division and did nothing but get better but there is nobody in this clubhouse is conceding a thing. We’re going to show up starting April 6 and get after it.”
Peavy likes the Sox starting rotation, even without Mark Buehrle.
“[Buehrle] is going to be missed but we have guys on the staff who have done good things who can pick up the slack. It’s huge for Johnny [Danks] to have the stability [with a five-year, $65 million extension] and being the guy here for the next five years. Gavin Floyd is as good as anybody, Phil Humber we saw what he’s capable of. We’re getting an absolute stud in Chris Sale [from the bullpen]. He’s as good as anybody I want to say I’ve played with as far as raw, physical talent. Throwing him in the rotation and how he holds up is going to be huge. And me pulling the weight I’m going to pull. We have the pieces in here to win. It’s just about showing up and doing it.”
Watching Peavy throw “free and easy” Thursday pleased manager Robin ÂVentura. Watching him win games come April would mean much more.
“His mind is right and he’s feeling healthy,” Ventura said. “For him and us it’s important for him to get through spring training healthy and feel like he’s healthy.”
Peavy likes the vibe around camp with Ventura at the helm.
“Robin is awesome,” Peavy said. “I love his demeanor. I love his attitude. We are going to do things right. We are Âgoing to be punctual. He’s a professional. He oozes professionalism. You can’t not be excited to play for a guy like that.
“It’s a different feel. We’re excited about Robin, what his staff brings to us. We have to play good team baseball, care about each other and make things happen.”