CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy looked strong in his first start back from the disabled list, with another two more outings to prove he can help a contender.
Peavy went six solid innings in his return from a rib fracture, pitching in his first game since June 4 at Seattle. The right-hander gave up four runs, but just two were earned, with seven hits and no walks as the Chicago White Sox rolled to a 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Teams should get two more chances to see Peavy before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and decide if they want to make an offer for the pitcher, whose grind-it-out style figures to help a contender down the stretch.
Peavy was well aware of the scouts in attendance behind home plate but didn’t let it affect him in his first outing in 46 days.
“There's a lot of eyes on me, period,” Peavy said. “I was trying to win for the 30,000 that came to support us. Whatever scouts see, they see. I love to play. I love to compete. I want to win. That's the bottom line. I didn't expect to have great feel, I didn't expect to have great stuff -- I didn't have either of those -- but I expected to win, and I wouldn't pitch in the big leagues if I didn't. Fortunately, the boys came up with some big hits and we were able to hold on.”
Peavy had figured to draw interest on the trade market if the White Sox fell out of contention, but those trade chances seemed to take a blow when he was injured. The veteran’s ability Saturday to spot his pitches and throw into the low 90 mph range might have made him a valuable trade piece again.
With the White Sox now out of contention, the front office is looking to add young minor league talent for the future, and an effective Peavy could land a decent return.
Since the injury wasn’t to Peavy’s shoulder or elbow, Saturday’s outing was more about knocking off the rust than it was about proving he’s healthy enough to withstand the stretch drive.
“I think he got better as the game went along,” Ventura said. “I think early on, I don’t think he was as sharp. It got better as it went along, even with the heat and everything just getting him out of there when I did. He was getting stronger, and that was good to see. He was still competing, doing all that stuff, but for me, he just got better.”
It might have been good for Ventura to see, but Peavy’s ability to get stronger and become more effective during the outing might eventually lead to him pitching elsewhere.
“I’d rather keep him. Believe me,” Ventura said. “That’s very evident for me because I know how good he is, and I know it’s good for us to have him because he’s a good pitcher. But I can’t go there. It’s just more managing the game to win the game. I don’t think about all the other stuff. I want him to do well first and foremost because I know it’s good for us.”
Peavy admitted to being rushed early because he was so anxious to pitch, and early defensive miscues from catcher Josh Phegley and third baseman Brent Morel didn’t help. The Braves held a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, normally a sign that the White Sox would be in trouble, but the offense was able to come to his aid.
The problem has been that not enough days like Saturday surfaced during the first half, and Peavy, along with Alex Rios, Jesse Crain and possibly a few others could be dealt away by the end of the month.
“I love Chicago, and we made that clear this winter [by signing a contract extension],” Peavy said. “I have a ton of friends here. I believe this team is capable of winning. This team, we showed you that we could last year. We just haven’t done much of that this year, and that’s unfortunate.
“It would be a sad day to leave if that was to happen, but I’m going to show up tomorrow willing and excited to be a Chicago White Sox [player] for the rest of the year in my mind and be ready to pitch Thursday against Detroit.”