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Saturday, September 19, 2009
Why start Peavy? Why not?

Jake Peavy threw 73 pitches and gave up three earned runs over five innings in his White Sox debut on Saturday night.


Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy may have created enough buzz to give the Sox momentum into 2010.
For the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out why in the world the White Sox would risk throwing their $52 million ace into a meaningless September game when he's been out most of the season with an ankle injury, and more recently, an elbow bruise.

When Ozzie Guillen sat down for his pregame media session, I was kind of expecting him to say that the organization had come to its senses and was shutting the right-hander down for the rest of the season, especially after he admitted at the beginning of the scrum that, "Everybody knows we're [messed] up."

But he didn't. Why not?

For starters, Guillen felt that after several months of rehab, Peavy's body was finally ready to go.

"He's gonna come out of the game healthy," the Sox manager said confidently. "I truly believe that."

Even more than that though, Guillen believed it was simply time for Peavy to pitch. After reminding the assembled media that Peavy would have been on the mound a few weeks ago had it not been for the line drive he took off his elbow in a minor league rehab outing, the loquacious manager answered this way:

"Why?" Guillen responded. "Because that's why we got him here."

After watching Peavy pitch, it's hard to argue against him.

Sure, the 28-year-old looked a little rusty in his debut on the South Side, but most importantly, he looked healthy. It had been over three months since he had been on a big league mound, but you wouldn't have known that by watching him pitch. His fastball topped out in the low 90s and he gave fans reason to believe that he will become one of the top pitchers in the game again.

"Once you get out there, it is kind of like riding a bike. It comes back to you and you certainly are comfortable in that surrounding," Peavy admitted after the White Sox 13-3 win over the Royals. "I did some things well, did some things not so well, [I've] got a long way to go to be who I want to be. But I'll take my chances with 13 [runs] any time."

The White Sox certainly took a chance by sending Peavy out to the mound on Saturday, but in doing so, they gave fans and the organization a glimpse of what is to come. Peavy's presence and attitude on the mound gave fans hope, and that alone made his start a success, regardless of the final score.

In listening to Guillen before and after the game, you get the sense that he expects Peavy to become one of the leaders of his team for a long time to come.

"When he's ready [to pitch] he prepares himself real well and he expects everybody to do the same thing," Guillen said after the win. "It's nice to see a guy out there prepare himself and make his teammates play harder and play better and pump [them] up.

"To do that, you have to be good and perform and back him up. You back your stuff up. He makes a couple bad pitches and he was talking to himself. A lot of people think it was cockiness, arrogance, whatever you want to call it, but that's the way he is and I like that. I like that when you want to be good."

For his part, Peavy was just happy to be back on the mound doing what he does best.

"It just felt good to get out there and compete," he said. "I owe it to the fans, and Kenny [Williams] and these guys who got me over here & I'm not 100 percent at where I would normally love to be, but I enjoy to compete and just try to give the team chance to win."

If his health continues to improve over the next few months, he'll be doing that a lot more for the Sox over the next couple seasons and Guillen knows it.

"I think a lot of people in Chicago, in the organization should be excited because I think this guy today and for the rest of the [next] few years is gonna be a big part of this ballclub," he said before the game. "I think everybody should be excited about it."

By allowing Peavy to pitch before the season ended, Guillen made certain that the excitement level surrounding his team will be extremely high heading into 2010. With the way this season is ending, that might have been one of his smartest moves of the year.