On Tuesday, Jake Peavy took part in a conference call with Sox reporters (but not bloggers! Guh!) to discuss his recovery process from that one time where his latissimus dorsi muscle ripped off the bone. The conversation contained all the optimism that we've come to expect from the undiluted bucket of sunshine that is Jake Peavy.
"I want to be ready for Opening Day." (Who wouldn't?!)
"I'd say I'm 60-70 percent off the mound." (That's so much more than 12!)
"I've pushed it as much as I can while listening to my body." (Unclear if his body knows the word 'no')
"Kenny tried to put the brakes on hard, to his credit..." (Good of him to do that)
"...And I pushed right through those brakes..." (Oh Jesus)
"I certainly realize me in (the rotation) and Chris Sale at the back of the
bullpen, we're a deep staff." (Suck it, rookie!)
"I'm going to get
ready and I want to be a guy that Ozzie and the rest of the staff knows I can
be sooner rather than later." (Fine, I'll admit I'd admire your irrational levels of determination)
For someone who has been such a highly-paid, injury-riddled disappointment in his fairly brief White Sox career, I've become pretty fond of Jake Peavy for the high-standards he holds himself to. Sure, he's been kind of a sunk cost in his year and a half in Chicago, but he seems profoundly pissed off about it. Certainly more than I could ever justify being.
It has manifested itself very clearly in his recovery from his injury. From the earliest point, Peavy has been stubbornly trying to push ahead his rehabilitation process, throwing daily since November, and routinely stating that his goal was return by Opening Day rather than some reasonable timeline like Mid-May or June or whenever he's actually ready.
It's good to see that suffering a career-threatening injury didn't diminish Peavy's spirit, and it's important to remember that that same spirit is exactly why Peavy is one of the least reliable sources of information on the health of Jake Peavy...which is surprising given how much insider information he has on the subject.
From pitching with an injured ankle that hampered his effectiveness in early 2009 with the Padres, to churning out starts while wracked with shoulder pain and fluid buildup in 2010, if Jake hasn't proven that he'll pitch until he can no longer lift his arm over his head, he's certainly made it clear that it's not worth the risk to trust him.
So while reports around Peavy are encouraging and there's some reason to believe he actually is ahead of schedule, it needs to be taken with around two metric tons of salt. Kenny Williams has committed to doing just that, but considering Peavy's return eliminates rotation confusion and strengthens the bullpen simultaneously (as it really appears that Sale will be there), he'll be hard-pressed to maintain his discipline...and maybe he doesn't have the best track record for discipline.
To say the least, it's going to be interesting how management balances a pennant race with making sure to ease back in a player who keeps insisting he's fine.
And by 'interesting' I mean 'a consistent source of anxiety'.