Jake Peavy excited for season debut

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jake Peavy's rocky 10-month path back to the major leagues will end Wednesday night when the former Cy Young Award winner returns to the Chicago White Sox's starting rotation.

To make room on the roster, the White Sox announced that right-hander Jeff Gray has been designated for assignment. Gray will go through the waivers process where he can be claimed by another club.

Out since July 6 of last year when his latissimus dorsi muscle detached from the bone in a start against the Angels, Peavy will have a chance to pick up where he left off by facing the Angels once again.

Since the day of his injury Peavy has been through surgery, an offseason recovery program, rehab during spring training and two setbacks, the last during his minor league rehab assignment last month

"Certainly it will be different once again walking off the field facing the Angels and walking back on the field facing the Angels," Peavy said. "It's just funny how things work."

Coming full circle won't give Peavy any closure, though. Finding his Cy Young form is Peavy's goal. Since coming over from the Padres in a midseason 2009 trade, Peavy has made just 20 starts in a White Sox uniform and has only shown flashes of his former brilliance.

When he was traded he was in the midst of recovery for an ankle injury. That issue has ultimately been blamed for getting Peavy out of his already unorthodox mechanics and leading to the muscle issue behind his right shoulder.

Peavy is 10-6 with a 4.11 ERA in a White Sox uniform. He had a 3.29 ERA in 211 starts in the National League.

"I certainly don't think I'm at my peak by any means," Peavy admitted. "I think I'm going to get better and stronger. But at the same time, this is as healthy as intact and fundamentally [sound] as I can recall being in Chicago. And I still believe this is the best team I've been on since I've been in Chicago. So I'm excited for [Wednesday] night and the rest of this year."

Peavy reached the 100-pitch plateau in his final minor league rehab start last week. Pitching coach Don Cooper said he expects Peavy to throw between 80 and 100 pitches against the Angels, with the low end of that estimate being the most realistic.

Where the White Sox's staff will watch Peavy closely is when he has runners on base and pitches out of the stretch. He worked on that during his rehab starts, even when the bases were empty.

"Jake's key is in the stretch position for me, to make sure he's loading and lifting his left leg to balance a certain way and make sure he's not going too quick," Cooper said. "That sets his throwing angle. That's what I'm going to watch. Also his rhythm and tempo."

Despite the fact that he is still working on his endurance, Peavy said that he has every expectation that he will be competitive against the Angels, otherwise he wouldn't be taking the mound.

"It's exciting, no doubt about it," said Peavy, who is calling this the most gratifying start of his career. "There's a little extra excitement in my body to pitch in the big leagues. At the same time, once [Maicer] Izturis or [Erick Aybar] -- whoever leads off -- gets in there, the focus and concentration will be on getting him out. There's anxiety and nerves there. But once you get between the white lines, I've done it enough to not really have nerves.

"I've cleared all the physical and mental hurdles I need to clear. I know I'm healthy and know my body is intact as it can be. I'm going to let it all hang out."

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.