By Dan Bernstein–
I guess you have to give Jake Peavy credit for bravado.
Not many pitchers coming back from muscle-reattachment surgery would appear on a teleconference and say “I want to be ready for opening day. That’s me. I want to come to camp and be like the other guys and feel like I can do that. I’ll be the ringleader.”
He went so far as to describe fighting with Sox GM Ken Williams about the speed of his rehabilitation, saying “Kenny tried to put the brakes on hard, to his credit, and I pushed right through those brakes and said ‘Kenny, I’m going good. Let me go. Let me start.’”
Then he crushed a beer can on his head and threw it against the wall. Or so I imagine.
I know this is who Peavy is. He’s a talker, and part of his game is hearing himself do the rah-rah act. He has the Cy Young Award, the three all-star selections, and the huge contract that give him some leeway to be That Guy.
But it would be nice if the arm could cash some of the checks his mouth has written since he joined the Sox.
Since arriving in September of 2009, he has started a mere 20 games. His ERA is 4.11. His tenure has been remarkably inconsistent, swinging violently from horrible to unhittable. He agreed to let Don Cooper coach him out of mechanical habits that endanger his elbow and shoulder, only to scrap that plan and go back to what was more comfortable, if much riskier.
He arrived in Chicago with an ankle injury, and had to make compensatory adjustments to his throwing motion. That started the series of tweaks to his delivery, and we have no idea if the avulsed latissimus dorsi is in any way a result.
Perhaps the most troubling comment from Peavy was his thought that “I certainly expect things to be smooth” during his comeback.
He may think that, but no reasonable person possibly could, since nothing about Peavy has been smooth since he joined the team. There has been one obstacle after another to him taking the ball regularly, while his velocity, location, and effectiveness have varied from game to game. All the while, we get the hard-charging pep talks.
As far as anybody knows, Peavy is a test case for this injury – the first pitcher to do what he is trying to do. It may be a helluva story at the end, but we’re still in act one.
And even if the repaired muscle is stable and strong enough, we know there’s a good chance something else will go wrong. Some analysts – both from the conventional scouting school and that of SABR — waved warning flags when the Sox (and Cubs) were pursuing Peavy initially, due to concerns about his delivery taking a toll with age. He was described well by The Hardball Times in 2007: “A max-effort pitcher with high risk/high reward mechanics.”
Peavy’s optimism is admirable. Nothing wrong with setting big goals when working one’s way back to form after something so severe and unprecedented.
I just wish I could share it.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM.
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