By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) It appears 2012 might be do or die for Jake Peavy as a starter.
The right-hander is now 18 months removed from significant surgery to repair a torn lat muscle in his back and, after failing to make it all the way through the 2011 season, Peavy is about as healthy as he going to get.
“I’m as 100 percent as I can be,” he said at SoxFest Friday. “I don’t know if I’m 100 percent of what I was three or four years ago, but that’s still left up in the air. I’m as 100 percent as 100 percent is going to get after what I’ve had done.”
Peavy is clearly frustrated with how his career with the White Sox has gone, admitting that he came to the White Sox injured and has pretty much had something hurting ever since.
So now, as Peavy starts the 2012 season as healthy as he has been in black pinstripes, he’s hopeful he can finally put together a strong season.
“The hope I draw from is a couple times last year I did that,” he said. “I can vividly remember that Cleveland start, that second start back, feeling like I possessed what I did in the past and I did that. And in that relief appearance, I felt as good as I’ve ever felt on the mound there. I just wasn’t able to sustain that and bottle any of that up and recover.”
Recovering and maintaining that strength will now be the challenge and many critics believe that Peavy could benefit from a change to his approach. Known as a maximum effort guy, Peavy appears to put everything into every pitch. One can only wonder if that has led to his injury problems, which, by the way, haven’t really included any arm problems.
Don’t count on Peavy reinventing himself though.
“I certainly don’t want to,” he said. “I want to be able to do what I did in the past or at least come back to that. That’s what I know, that’s who I am.”
It’s clear that Peavy still believes he can be the Cy Young winning pitcher he used to be, despite admitting he won’t ever be as healthy as he was in those days. That could have him set up for one last do-or-die year as a starter. It’s either going to work or not.
And if it doesn’t work, will he make a permanent switch to the bullpen?
“I think that’s something we’re going to address, I hope down the road,” Peavy said. “I want to be a starter. I want to throw 200 innings and I want to make 30 starts. Anything less would be a disappointment.”
Beckham Drops Weight
Looking to bounce back from back-to-back disappointing seasons, second baseman Gordan Beckham has dropped 10 pounds after saying he lifted too much in last year’s offseason and came to camp too heavy. He’s down from 205 to 195.
Beckham is also looking forward to a new positive attitude in the clubhouse with Robin Ventura on board as manager.
“It’s such a negative game that you have to be positive,” he said. “If you don’t, it’s just going to wear you down and beat you down. I let it beat me down (last year) and that’s not me. That’s not my personality. I don’t enjoy that. So I made that decision and I’m not going to be that guy no matter what.
“It’s going to go bad at some point, but I’m not scared of that. I know that where I’m at mentally, I’m going to grind right through that and get back to where I want to be.”
Ventura Fully On Board
One of the biggest reasons why the Robin Ventura hiring was so surprising was because there had never been any buzz about him wanting to be a manager before.
And that’s because it was never really a goal of his.
“I don’t know if I was always pushing for this as my No. 1 thing to do, but the idea was presented and I went back and forth with Kenny and Jerry and I’m very excited about the opportunity to do this,” he said.
Usually it’s the managerial candidates selling themselves to an organization, but it’s pretty clear it was the other way around when Williams and Reinsdorf pursued Ventura.
This is either going to be the hire of Williams’ career or they’ll likely go down together.
Not Worried About Expectations
The White Sox have made a habit of failing to live up to high expectations and exceeding low expectations. That’s why Williams has a sly little grin on his face every time someone mentions the low expectations for the 2012 White Sox.
“They’ve picked us first for a lot of years and unfortunately we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain,” he said. “And in 2005 and again in 2008 they picked us third. So where are they picking us now? Third or fourth? Good. They’re never right. They’re wrong more than me.”
That last part was a playful shot at himself, by the way.
Welcoming A Prince To The Division
When Prince Fielder surprisingly signed with the Detroit Tigers earlier this week, White Sox fans understandably took notice.
So what was Kenny’s reaction?
“I was part of the collective groan,” he admitted. “What do you want me to say? You want me to say I was happy Prince ended up (in Detrioit)? That was the last place I thought he was going to end up. I still don’t know how it happened.”
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.