Peavy says he's ready for new challenge
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy woke up from a nap and had about 40 minutes to make a decision on his future. The clock was ticking toward the end of Friday's non-waiver trade deadline and the Chicago White Sox -- the team he'd turned down back in May -- were beckoning again.
This time, Peavy said yes. He would leave the only team he'd ever pitched for, the San Diego Padres, and try to help the White Sox reclaim the AL Central championship.
"I just didn't think the timing was right in May. ... We certainly left the door open," Peavy said Saturday after pulling on a No. 44 White Sox jersey in a photo op with general manager Ken Williams, who was persistent in his pursuit of the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner.
Family was a big consideration when the White Sox first came calling, and still is for Peavy.
"At the time, I thought San Diego was the place to be for me. We were right in the thick of things, had won five or six in a row, eventually ran off 10 in a row," Peavy said at a news conference that was attended briefly by Spike Lee. "Injuries struck our team pretty hard. We obviously are in a different place right now than we were there then."
"The White Sox are in a totally different position than they were," he added.
Chicago was 1½ games out of first in the AL Central entering play Saturday and Peavy probably won't be able to help his new team for another month as he recovers from a tendon injury in his right ankle that has kept him on the disabled list since June 13. The right-hander got hurt running the bases.
Peavy, who has three years left on his contract after this season, is hoping to throw off a mound in the next couple of days but acknowledged it will be a while before he's ready to pitch in a major league game.
"Physically, the ankle feels fine, it's just a little bit weak. Simply being in a boot for six weeks will make the calf muscle and stuff like that weak. And the arm, same way, didn't throw a ball," Peavy said.
"Everybody knows when you take a couple of months off, you're not going to be as sharp and as good as you are when you're in midseason form. But I wouldn't be surprised in the next three weeks, four weeks, to certainly be out on the field trying to help this ballclub win."
The 28-year-old Peavy was 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 starts with the Padres this season. Over eight major league seasons with the Padres, the two-time All-Star is 92-68 with a 3.29 ERA and 1,348 strikeouts in 212 starts.
Now he's moving to a new league and from a pitcher-friendly park in San Diego to one that can spit out homers in U.S. Cellular Field, especially on windy days in the summer. His career ERA on the road (3.84) is a run higher than his one at home (2.83).
"I'm not worried one bit about playing in a non-pitcher's ballpark," Peavy said. "It doesn't matter where you pitch. You've got to make pitches. Certainly, Petco ballpark is a pitcher's ballpark, but in our division, we play in Bank One Ballpark, I make four starts a year in Coors Field."
Peavy is scheduled to make $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. There is a $22 million club option for 2013 with a $4 million buyout.
Even before the White Sox came calling in May, Peavy had been the subject of much trade speculation in the offseason.
"To be on the blocks again this winter, having to endure another winter like I went through, I just didn't care to do that," Peavy said.
"I knew this day would come, being traded out with the direction the team was going. I'm glad it's here sooner than later."
But leaving San Diego wasn't easy. He'll go back for some treatment and workouts before he's ready to go on a minor league rehab assignment, perhaps in a couple of weeks if his ankle responds.
"Obviously I had mixed emotions over the last 24 hours simply because San Diego is a place that I've known since I've been a 17-year-old kid. So leaving there and the relationships I had there was tough," he said.
"But when I got on that plane this morning, I left those loyalties and obligations in San Diego."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press