Sox starter Peavy nearly joined other side

As Jake Peavy prepared to pitch in the Crosstown Classic for the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, he couldn’t help but contemplate how close he came to becoming a Chicago Cub.

The 29-year-old pitcher was nearly on his way to the North side via a deal that would have sent five young Cubs players to San Diego when the Tribune Company went into chapter 11 bankruptcy. Then-general manager Jim Hendry was told by his bosses that he could not take on the hefty Peavy contract.

“I thought I was there and I knew it was very close,” Peavy said. “I was excited about it because I love the city and I have all the respect in the world for Jim Hendry and what they were doing at that time (with two straight division titles.) I loved the pitching staff that was in place and I really thought I could help, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

After Hendry was told to cut spending the Cubs’ record went the other way and the Padres, who were also told to cut costs, began looking for other trading partners. Peavy, who at first turned down a trade to the White Sox, said OK to a deal on July 31, 2009 as four Sox pitchers were moved to the Padres for the 2007 National League Cy Young winner.

“Life has been crazy since that time,” Peavy said. “Who knows if I had those injuries here (with the Cubs) how things would have turned out. We can talk all night about what ifs, but I am a White Sox and I am glad to be healthy now, helping out.”

The allure of Chicago was intoxicating for Peavy as it is for hundreds of players who want to come to the “Second City.”

“What’s there not to like about Chicago,” Peavy said. “You get to live downtown and play in front of great fans who have great passion for their teams. If you win here there is no better feeling because of that support.”

Peavy did not want to get into the comparisons between Cubs and Sox fans, but he has observed some positives in both fan bases over his career.

“Wrigley Field is such a great place to play. The fans are great here and great on our side of town,” he said. “The bottom line is being able to win, and I know Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod will have the Cubs winning like they did in Boston. For now, I just worry about the White Sox and (am) looking to take care of business here.”