Don’t get Jake Peavy wrong. He’s not trying to show anyone up or anything like that.
Red Sox fans are learning quickly that Peavy is an emotional guy when he pitches. It’s common to see the right-hander yell at himself on the mound, particularly when he makes a mistake, and it’s a mean streak that has accompanied the veteran throughout his entire baseball career.
“I think a lot has to do with the way I was raised, with my father, and how competitive I was,” Peavy said on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Wednesday. “It wasn’t, as you just said, always the smartest thing in the world [to go after the best hitters instead of working around them], but I think with my age I’ve gotten a little bit smarter and learned how to pick and choose my battles.”
Peavy has already won over plenty of Boston fans, mainly because he’s pitched well in his five starts since being acquired from the White Sox. He also has an edge to him that can’t be taught, though, and Peavy insists that his in-game emotion is simply a way of relieving some undue stress.
“This being my 12th season, most of the umpires, as you know, have been around, and they’ll get schooled before the game if they haven’t been about my yelling,” Peavy said. “The same way with the opposition. It’s never any disrespect toward anybody. It’s just, I’m an emotional-type guy. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. If I keep that bottled up, it’s not going to be good. It’s all going to come out at some point in time. I would rather it come out in little bits and pieces than me try to hold it in.”
Peavy pitched a gem Sunday in Los Angeles. He went the distance while surrendering just one run on three hits. But even though Peavy was in total control while the Red Sox’ offense provided plenty of run support, the 32-year-old was still visibly upset after giving up a home run to Adrian Gonzalez. In other words, it was just Peavy being Peavy.
“When Adrian Gonzalez hits a home run on an 0-2 pitch, you can see a blowup that most people probably wouldn’t want to see,” Peavy said. “When I make one of those noncompetitive pitches, I just get so frustrated. You strive for perfection. Nobody can be that way, but you’re never going to get as close as you can get unless you strive for that.
“I hope people don’t get angry at me when I do start yelling and stuff, because I promise you it’s all that competitive energy and I want to win with every last ounce in me.”
Peavy’s intense, fiery and self-motivated demeanor is certainly unique — and perhaps even a bit polarizing but the former NL Cy Young winner insists that he’s just trying to go out and contribute to his team’s success. His mound demeanor is a product of his passion.
“I did,” Peavy said of showing emotion after being pulled in the sixth inning against the Giants on Aug. 20. “But I wanted to show my teammates and this town that I do have what it takes.”
So far, Peavy hasn’t given the Red Sox much reason to believe that he doesn’t have what it takes.