Peavy perfect fit for playoff-contending Red Sox
Following ups and downs of injuries, righty says he's completely healthy
BOSTON -- Quite simply, they're going to love Jake Peavy in Boston. It's a sophisticated fan base that will appreciate the right-hander's maximum effort. He'll give the Red Sox everything he has every time he steps on the mound.
"I hope that's something that does come across in my time here," Peavy told MLB.com this past weekend. "I look forward to being a part of it the rest of this year and next year, and who knows beyond that. The passion the fans bring and their desire to win, I believe my personality will go hand-in-hand with that.
"But at the end of the day, I have to go out and win for them, make them like you. But there will be that preparation and desire every time out."
So far, so good. Peavy's first start for the Red Sox earned him a victory Saturday night over the D-backs. His next one will be against the Royals in Kansas City on Friday night.
No discussion with Peavy would be complete without addressing the experimental surgery he underwent on July 14, 2010, in Chicago. Peavy had the latissimus dorsi muscle reattached to the rear of his shoulder through a sequence of stitches tied to the bone by four metal anchors or tacks. The surgery had never been performed on a starting pitcher.
A little more than three years later, Peavy's shoulder is intact, withstanding the constant motion of throwing pitch after pitch. Boston's newest hurler was given a standing ovation as he walked off the field after allowing a single to open the eighth in a 5-2 win.
MLB.com: That was quite a sendoff by the fans as you walked off the field.
Peavy: To walk off there in the eighth to that kind of response from the fans, albeit upset after giving up the hit, that's something I'll never forget.
MLB.com: You tipped your cap.
Peavy: When somebody gives you that kind of response in appreciation, you certainly want to let them know that you love 'em right back. It was as exciting as any game I've ever pitched in. Fenway Park has always been one of my favorite places to come to as a visiting player simply because of the atmosphere. I feel very blessed to be on the home side now.
MLB.com: People really don't understand what you went through physically to get back to this place, what with what amounted to experimental surgery on your right shoulder. Your career could have been over three years ago.
Peavy: And I appreciate you recognizing that. It was something different, that's for sure. It was a trying time in my life just simply because of the unknowns. I got traded over there to the White Sox by the Padres in 2009 with an ankle injury and I so wanted to be the pitcher they wanted me to be, the pitcher they obtained in that trade. But health-wise, I couldn't do that and ultimately it led to an injury and surgery that no starting pitcher had ever had before.
MLB.com: Psychologically, how did you deal with that?
Peavy: It was tough. Coming back from that you don't know if you can come back and be anything close to what you were. But family, friends, those people who are close to you in life, they stuck with me and were always behind me. I was able to work back and to have an opportunity like this. It's much more gratifying to be at this place than if it wouldn't have happened. I appreciate you understanding what went on there.
MLB.com: Talking to the surgeon, Dr. Anthony Romeo, on numerous occasions, it's incredible what went on there.
Peavy: My friendship with Dr. Romeo goes beyond what happened. He sent me a few texts in the last few days. I can't thank him enough. The confidence he showed -- I've had doctors when you have surgery who tell you just to ride it out. From the moment I met with him, he was so confident in his ability and what he believed in could get me right. It's like anything in life. When somebody shows that much confidence in what he can do, you start believing in it.
MLB.com: In your comeback, when did you actually get to the point when you felt like the procedure was actually going to work?
Peavy: I thought that at the beginning of last year when I came back to Spring Training. In 2011, I tried to get back in the mix and I was hit or miss. In my second start [on May 18, 2011] I threw a shutout against the Indians and beat [Justin] Masterson, 1-0, and my velocity was back. I then had some OK starts. I threw in relief, and looking back on it, I wish I wouldn't have. That was less than a year after I had the procedure and it wasn't the smartest thing for me to do, for me to throw three or four innings in relief. From that point, my arm never recovered in 2011 and was never close to the same.
MLB.com: Did you talk to Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the White Sox back then, about how you were feeling?
Peavy: Yeah, but me and Ozzie had a little bit of a disagreement. We were out of it at the end of the season and I didn't see a need for me to pitch anymore. I had nothing more to prove and I wanted my arm to get some rest so I could get ready for 2012. But he just didn't understand why I wasn't going to make my last few starts. We were mathematically eliminated. It was just a difference of opinion. I didn't want to push it and feel any pain or discomfort in my arm. He was very good to me and my family. It was just a shame that we ended on not so good of a note.
MLB.com: So what was the difference in 2012?
Peavy: I had a normal winter. That's why last year it meant the world to me to be able to come back healthy. I vowed to be the best teammate and the best pitcher. Winning the Gold Glove meant the world to me last winter. I vowed to control the things I could control, try to be the best I could be perhaps not having all the talent I once had, showing that I could stay healthy and pitch almost 220 innings. I knew I was back.
MLB.com: So do you even think about the shoulder now?
Peavy: I really don't. I stay on top of the exercises [to] keep my shoulders strong. That's why I was so bummed this year when I had to miss time with a rib injury because people think, "Aw, he's hurt again." It was something completely freakish and I can't thank [Red Sox general manager] Ben [Cherington] and other teams that were interested in me for realizing it had nothing to do with my arm.
MLB.com: And how did you do it?
Peavy: We're not sure how it happened. Pregame in Oakland I started feeling it. Progressively it just got worse to the point where I didn't know what was going on. But there was nothing impactful. I don't even know how it happened. Nothing like a fall or anything like that. They think it was from just over-straining it, a stress fracture from pushing too hard.
MLB.com: Was it something like the rib injury you sustained with the Padres before the playoffs in 2005?
Peavy: In '05, I know exactly how it happened. We won the National League West title at Petco and I jumped on top of the pile. You can see it happen. I jumped on top and hit Ramon Hernandez. The injury was almost in the same spot on the left side. But this time, it was something I tried to press through and working out it just got worse and worse.
MLB.com: But now you're here at 32 with the wisdom of all those experiences and years.
Peavy: You learn as you go and you learn how to control those emotions. I can't say enough about my Boston teammates, making me feel comfortable and welcome. I've been blessed in these first few days and I look forward to many, many more.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.