Healthy Peavy 'amped up' in early going
Just two outings in, Red Sox right-hander feels best he has in years
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Jake Peavy feels so good in his second start of Spring Training that he is consciously telling himself he has to hold back, this is a positive sign.
More than anything, it is a sign that Peavy's right shoulder feels stronger than it has in years.
So now there are the Red Sox, the defending World Series champions, with a former Cy Young Award winner slotted into the fourth spot in the starting rotation.
It's a nice luxury to have.
Peavy knows what the general perception of him is, and it drives him.
"I'm 32 years old and getting talked about like I'm a 40-year-old," Peavy said. "But I feel like I've got some good baseball ahead of me, and I hope to be a big part of this club."
The righty appears in position to make his hopes come true, considering the kind of shape he got in over the winter and how his body seems to be responding.
In a 4-2 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday night, he allowed four hits and a run over 4 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out five.
"I thought he threw the ball very well tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He got to the desired pitch count that we wanted him to get to. I think, even in the two outings that he's made for us, he's shown good life to his fastball, decent power to it. He's still trying to refine the touch and feel to his changeup. There were a lot of positives here tonight."
Peavy's biggest battle, it turns out, was simply taming his adrenaline.
"I was too excited," Peavy said. "First night game, you get excited. It's fun to compete. It's fun when you don't have a team that you're worried about facing and you're not worried about showing too much, and you can let it all hang out there. I was excited to do that for the first time, and a little too amped up. But I felt fine."
Just being able to say he felt fine was something Peavy could savor.
Since his 2007 Cy Young season in San Diego, Peavy compiled 200-plus innings only once, in '12 for the White Sox.
Yes, he confirms that this is the best he has felt since San Diego.
"I am," Peavy said. "I don't know what that will translate to. I got traded to Chicago with a bad ankle. I pushed to get on the field when I was done for the year over there in '09. Me getting on the field that year, I let them see me in an altered state. I had some success.
"I came back in 2010 and was kind of doing that because that's what they saw, and that's how they coached me. I ended up blowing my lat out. I ended the '10 season, which didn't go well, come back in 2011 as quick as I could because you're making money and you want to be out there. I certainly wasn't the same.
"In 2012, we put together a good year and stayed healthy, but I still just didn't feel like I was anywhere close to what I can do with a baseball."
And what helps Peavy have perspective on the way he is throwing the ball now compared with his time in Chicago is that he is back with a former teammate in catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"A.J. and I were just in training room talking," Peavy said. "Our time in Chicago, I wasn't ever this healthy. A.J. was talking a little bit about my stuff, and he hasn't caught me even with this much health."
The only health problem Peavy dealt with this spring was a scary mishap with a fishing knife. But he came through that fine and is on track to open his season on schedule, starting the home opener against the Brewers on April 4.
After he was traded to the Red Sox last July 30 for Jose Iglesias, Peavy swiftly evolved into a cornerstone, one who was dependable on the mound and infectious with his competitive fire.
The one thing Peavy will not spend much time on is projecting his stats for the season.
"I'm just over baseball [individually]," Peavy said. "I just want to be healthy and be out there for my team. I know that we're going to go about things the right way and compete."
Peavy already bought one duckboat from last year's World Series parade. He would love to have the chance to buy another.
"What I experienced last year, that's all that it's about for me at this point and time," Peavy said. "I want to win on my fifth day, and I want to be a teammate and help the other guys win on their day. I'm excited about it personally. I'm excited about trying to find a way to get back in the playoffs with this bunch who knows how to win and get it done and see if we can't pull it off again."