GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy shows quite a bit of emotion while pitching, whether it's prowling around the mound after not getting a call or yelling at himself when not making a pitch. But the emotion Peavy exhibited pregame Monday when talking about his friend Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher Hill, an Iraq War veteran who experienced severe post-traumatic stress disorder, comes from an entirely different place.
"Me and Chris Hill have a bond like no other. I get teary eyed just thinking about what he's been through and who he is now," said Peavy, his eyes welling up as he talked. "To be a friend to him through that, it's life-changing for me."
Hill was one of 10 veterans who visited the White Sox clubhouse prior to Monday's game against the Rockies as Peavy's guests in conjunction with the Strikeouts for Troops program. They got to shake hands and get autographs from players such as Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn, while taking pictures and chatting with manager Robin Ventura and television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson.
After attending the game, there was a dinner and a private concert for the group Monday night that featured Peavy, San Francisco hurler Barry Zito and friends. Peavy and Hill met in 2010, before Peavy's Woodjock Spring Training concert, and the fellow Alabama native was not speaking at the time. Peavy had a talk with Hill and at the end of the conversation, Hill responded with a "Roll Tide" and began to return to old form.
"A lot of people have their different political opinions on what they're doing and why they're doing it," Peavy said. "At the end of the day, these kids are doing what they're asked to do. It's not their choice and [they are] making huge sacrifices so we can live and go about our lives the way we can go about it.
"To be able to say thank you in a small way and just getting them out of their hospitals, getting them out of their rehab facilities . … I can go on and on telling you stories about some of the men that were in here and it would break your heart but make you smile at the same time."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.