Peavy's session offers positive reinforcement

Peavy's session offers positive reinforcement

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- "Normal" and "expected" were the best words to describe Jake Peavy's 40-pitch bullpen session on Thursday at Camelback Ranch, marking the White Sox Spring Training report date for pitchers and catchers.

Even the healthiest of starting pitchers won't be close to full velocity or working close to full throttle when he takes the mound for the first time. So, Peavy was in the same basic position as fellow rotation mates Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, John Danks and Gavin Floyd, who also threw on Thursday.

The only difference separating the others from Peavy, and it's a major one, falls upon his ongoing recovery from season-ending surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder. But Peavy has been on the mound previously during this offseason, so seeing good movement from his pitches and feeling strong overall came as no surprise.

"Just nice and easy," said Peavy in describing Thursday's effort. "Nothing too much. Just a good side session.

"Fastball, changeup, and the location was good. Just climbing like the other guys are. Just like I said, if anyone was out there, it wasn't any different than anyone else's. It was just a nice and easy foundation."

Ultimately, Peavy doesn't want his spring schedule to be different from any other White Sox starter. He wants to throw another sideline on Saturday, after the requisite day off, although Peavy's turn will be pushed back to Sunday as he returns to Alabama this weekend to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Peavy wants to be looked at as a starting pitcher building for the regular season and not a talented hurler answering questions as he comes back from a serious and rare injury. That sentiment has been texted throughout the offseason by Peavy to general manager Ken Williams, with Peavy sharing nothing but a positive outlook on his comeback.

"He really has been kind of annoying and he's gung-ho," said Williams with a laugh. "Put it this way, if you are sending the Marines into battle, this is the guy you want giving the speech to get you riled up.

"It's our job to make sure that competitive nature doesn't get the best of him, get him to the point where he's doing something more premature than he should. We will watch him closely and be very cautious dealing with him as I explained to him today.

"Whenever he gets out there, we want him at 100 percent," Williams said. "We don't want him to start at 80 percent and then stay at 80 percent because he hasn't given himself that extra three weeks or month."

A MRI of Peavy's shoulder was taken last Friday. It was viewed by Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon who practices in Birmingham, Ala., and Peavy was given the all-clear to go all-out.

"Everything turned out well with that," said Peavy. "There's wear and tear like any other 29-year-old that's pitched for as long as I have. You're not going to see a clean 20-year-old shoulder, but things look very well intact and even the lat muscle looks outstanding."

Tempering Peavy's unbridled enthusiasm remains one of the primary tasks for the White Sox, as Williams mentioned. The team would like nothing more than to have Peavy make his first regular-season start on April 10, pushed back due to an off-day on April 4.

With the fifth starter, where Peavy would be slotted, only needed three more times after that debut, the White Sox certainly want to err on the side of complete health. Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen confirmed that rookie phenom Chris Sale has been targeted for the bullpen, meaning someone from the group of Phil Humber, Charlie Leesman, Jeff Gray or Lucas Harrell would sub in for Peavy if necessary during April.

Minor setbacks are expected for Peavy as he ramps things up over the next six weeks, a point mentioned by both the pitcher and Williams. The White Sox want their potential ace to be honest with them, not trying to pitch through pain or any sort of trouble signs just to get back quickly.

Guillen expressed that point to Peavy during a Thursday morning discussion. Williams' presence next to Peavy during his physical, along with the White Sox training staff and physicians, took this idea of concern one step deeper.

"We are not going to push it in any sense of the word," Williams said. "He's about right where everybody else is and that's what he said. But in my mind there is still the time the body takes to heal. You can push and push and work out as much as you want but there's still a time period where your body has to heal. So that's what I'm concerned with."

"It's going to be a long process," Guillen said. "I hope I can shake his hand on Opening Day, but I don't expect that. Do I want to? Yes. We all want that. But we have to be sure what stage he really is. It's not the same as throwing the ball or long toss when you have a hitter out there."

Along with fighting through this offseason rehab, Peavy also has dealt with health problems hitting his father. It has not been the easiest of years for Peavy, but Thursday's session was another encouraging step on the baseball side of things -- not that the high-energy right-hander had any doubts.

"For the last month, I've done exactly what I would do in any other offseason to prepare to get ready to pitch," Peavy said. "I feel completely normal. I can feel a tad bit in my lat when we do some of the strength tests and stuff.

"From what I've been told, that's going to be there for the next year or so. There's no restrictions on throwing. I just have to make sure I'm healthy. I have a lot of motivation."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.