Jake Peavy could start in mid-April

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jake Peavy hopes some good news will come eventually after a rough eight months.

The White Sox right-hander, who had his latissimus dorsi muscle surgically repaired last summer, found out Wednesday that his grandmother passed away. He also found out this winter that his father is having health issues.

He will return to his native Alabama for his grandmother's funeral this weekend, but Thursday offered him a bit of a respite from his problems. Peavy had a light bullpen session at the White Sox's spring training complex on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

"It was just what I expected, because I've been on the mound before," Peavy said. "It was just nice and easy, nothing too much. Just a good side session. Fastball, changeup, and the location was good. I'm just climbing like the other guys are. ... It was just nice and easy foundation."

The chances that Peavy is ready by Opening Day are still long, but the club has mapped out a plan in which the right-hander doesn't need to be ready so quickly. Even if he is ready to start the season on time, general manager Kenny Williams said Peavy will be the fifth starter.

The good news there for the White Sox is that with early-season off days, the fifth starter won't be needed until April 10, extending Peavy's recovery time. If the White Sox can find a spot starter for that game, the fifth spot won't come up again until April 20.

"It's our job to make sure that competitive nature doesn't get best of him, get him to point where he's doing something more premature than he should," Williams said. "We will watch him closely and be very cautious dealing with him as I explained to him today. Whenever he gets out there we want him at 100 percent. We don't want him start at 80 percent and then stay at 80 percent because he hasn't given himself that extra three weeks or month."

After announcing Thursday that Chris Sale will be used exclusively out of the bullpen this season, the in-house candidates to fill in for Peavy, if necessary, are Tony Pena, Lucas Harrell, Charlie Leesman and maybe even Phil Humber or Jeff Gray.

With such big decisions ahead, Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen were there first-hand to watch Peavy throw.

"I think both of them liked what they saw," Peavy said. "At the same time, they want me to take as much time as I need. When I get back and they want me to be here for the long haul. Both said that. That's something I want as well. They just keep trying to pull the reigns back, which is exactly what they're supposed to do. And we'll be smart about it. We're coming off a major injury and coming off uncharted waters."

Peavy wasn't throwing anywhere near full speed, but neither are the other White Sox starters at this point of the spring. He plans to progress at the same pace as the other starters, but at some point he knows he will get left behind while his teammates continue to progress.

"The doctor said, 'Listen, as we turn it up and get going, expect some speed bumps,'" said Peavy, who had an MRI on Friday in San Diego that showed no abnormalities. "That's obviously not what you want to hear, but I'm going to listen to my body. At the same time, I'm going to push it as hard as I can push it to get back out there. But at the same time, I have to be honest with myself and the staff. I'm excited. I really don't think I'm going to be that far behind."

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.