BOSTON — Jake Peavy remembers what it’s like to be a young ace full of potential. That’s why he was the perfect person to talk to former teammate Chris Sale after Sale got in an argument with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper recently.
Sale was upset that he was told to pitch around Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in order to get to Prince Fielder. He wanted to pitch against the man who won the Triple Crown last season.
After Sale and Cooper got into a heated exchange, Peavy sought out the young pitcher to give him some advice.
“‘Chris, they want you to be that way. They want you to have that makeup, because it’s part of what makes you good,’” Peavy said. “But you have to understand your body. You have to understand the professionalism in the game and what truly gives your team a chance to win. And that’s not all the time what you’re thinking when you’re that age.”
Peavy was one of the best pitchers in baseball when he was Sale’s age, eventually winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2007 as a 26-year-old. But now Peavy is 32 years old, and he has had to grow and mature as a player in order to maintain that same level of play.
“I definitely think I’ve evolved,” he said during his first appearance with the Boston media on Thursday, two days after being acquired by the Red Sox in a three-team, seven-player deal. “[My] stuff is not anywhere close to as overpowering I think at one point in time that I felt like I have. But at the same time I feel like I’m as good as I was back then, and in different ways.”
Peavy said part of his evolution has been to focus on only the things that he can control. Things will go awry in games, but he doesn’t want to worry about them.
“That’s why winning the Gold Glove last year meant the world to me, because I truly vowed to myself I want to be as good as I can possible be at things I can control,” Peavy said. “There’s so much in baseball — watch tonight how many balls tip off a glove or foul or fair and watch the impact that it has on the game. It’s truly remarkable when you’re a starting pitcher and a line drive double play. The stuff you can’t control, it gets to you. So I want to be the best I can at controlling the game, game management and staying under control and pitching.”
While Peavy has learned how to evolve through his experience on the mound, he also had a pretty good teacher to learn from. While he was still in San Diego, he said he got to see teammate Greg Maddux pitch firsthand. Maddux’s career was coming to an end at that point, but he still managed to go 14-11 in 2007, when Peavy won his Cy Young. After watching Maddux, Peavy could see what it took to pitch in terms of preparation at an older age on the mound.
Now, Peavy is not as old as Maddux was at that point, but he still carries that knowledge around, and he said he hopes that will help him with his new team.
The evolved Peavy also hopes to continue to avoid worrying about things that are out of his control.
“I hope I’ve gotten better at that, and I certainly will do my best to make the best decision in the game that’s beneficial to the Boston Red Sox,” Peavy said. “So I’ll be good at that, I promise you.”
Photo via Twitter/@KatieMo61