BOSTON — The Red Sox trading for Jake Peavy was a boon for Boston. The Sox got a former Cy Young winner to join their rotation, and they didn’t lose any key prospects in the process. They also got value back for Jose Iglesias, and they did it in a way that gets them a pitcher for more than just the rest of this season.
But the Red Sox trading for Peavy was also a plus for Peavy. The 32-year-old, who has only known the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox in his career, is now on the Boston Red Sox, and it’s a version of the Boston Red Sox that has led the American League for much of this year. Peavy isn’t buying Fenway lore — he’s jumping into success midstream.
But outside of the surface details that show why this is a solid deal for both the Red Sox and Peavy, there are a few other reasons why Peavy joining Boston couldn’t be more perfect. It’s those extra perks that added to Peavy’s excitement Thursday afternoon, when he was already bantering with Boston writers and talking like he wanted a second home in the Fenway bleachers.
Peavy was clearly comfortable with his new team before he even took questions Thursday afternoon, and it starts not just with the excitement of joining a winning tradition but also with the history Peavy has with various parts of the organization. He acknowledged that history Thursday, saying that coming to Boston — despite it being a city he’s only pitched in once — was like coming “full circle” in his career.
Peavy is now teammates again with two players he has played with before, David Ross and Shane Victorino (both briefly with the Padres). He also has a longer history with two members of the Red Sox’ staff, pitching coach Juan Nieves and special assignment scout Mark Wasinger.
Wasinger, while working for the Padres, saw Peavy pitch as a 17-year-old in Semmes, Ala., in 1999, according to The Boston Globe. Peavy drew interest from a lot of teams, but many organizations were concerned that he would go to college instead of signing if drafted. He fell to the 15th round, but the Padres were able to draft and sign the player Wasinger called “very, very impressive” and “a competitor.”
Wasinger and Peavy haven’t interacted since then, but Wasinger was able to offer advice to Peavy’s new team (and Wasinger’s employer), the Red Sox, when they looked into acquiring him this time around.
Nieves, on the other hand, has worked closely with Peavy. He was the White Sox’ bullpen coach for five seasons but knew of Peavy long before that, and Nieves talked Wednesday about his anticipation in seeing the “whole package” come to Boston.
Peavy shared the sentiment.
“I think that’s huge for me,” he said of working with Nieves again. “When I got traded from San Diego, trading leagues — National League to American League — I had such problems with having somebody who knew me and not what you’d call a traditional delivery — it’s a little bit violent, as some people describe it as — so having a guy that watched me throw 200 and close to 20 innings last year and all my bullpen sessions is huge.”
Nieves especially lauded Peavy’s competitiveness, a trait that many people have mentioned. Peavy fielded several questions on the topic on Thursday, and he even seemed to feel a need to say that his “emotional” impulses will be kept in check, no matter how fired up he might seem on the mound.
When the word “competitive” was dropped, though, Peavy didn’t shy away.
“I love being described as that,” he said. “I’m going to be ready to pitch on my days. I’m going to get ready on the days in between. Come 7:05, I’m going to absolutely give everything I can possibly give on that day. … Compete until you can’t compete anymore, give all you have to give to win.”
In that regard, Peavy has found perhaps the best match he could have hoped for. Boston is a town that wants competitiveness, gusto, passion — whatever name it goes by.
No matter the familiarity Peavy has with his pitching coach — or unfamiliarity with his new home ballpark — it’s the way Boston embraces the fire of a player who wants to win that makes Peavy fit in already.
Peavy offered the oft-used phrases and clichés when he was introduced Thursday, but they were the oft-used phrases and clichés of a schoolboy waiting for summer. He was giddy wearing a Red Sox shirt, not at all cowed by the “full circle” course his career has run.
“I’m as excited as I could be to put this uniform on with the opportunity that I have, with, like I said, all the tradition and expectations around this franchise,” he said. “I honestly could not be happier.”
His second career start at Fenway Park comes Saturday.
Photo via Twitter/@BGlobeSports