Many times, when people hear the name Jake Peavy they think of a pitcher who has pitched 12 years in the majors and may be headed down the back-9.
“I’m 32-years-old and I get talked about like I’m a 40-year-old,” Peavy said earlier this spring. “I feel like I have some good baseball ahead of me and I hope to be a big part of this club.”
The Red Sox’ No. 4 starter made his big league debut when he was just 21-years-old with the San Diego Padres in 2002, so many just assume he’s much older than 32. As reference, Peavy will turn 33 this May – which is actually just three years older Jon Lester and four years older than Clay Buchholz.
On top of being a pitcher essentially in the prime of his career, the right-hander is finally entering a season fully healthy. Peavy spent eight seasons with San Diego, establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League, taking home the Cy Young Award in 2007 while going 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings.
During the 2009 season, Peavy was traded to the White Sox and it was in Chicago where his health began to plague him.
“I got traded to Chicago [in mid-2009] with a bad ankle and pushed to get on the field when I was done for the year over there in ’09. Me getting on the field that year, I let them see me in an altered state,” Peavy said. “I had some success and I came back in 2010, I was kind of doing that because that was what they saw and that’s how they coached me.
“I ended up blowing my lat out, ending the ’10 season, which didn’t go well. I came back in 2011 as quick as I could because you’re making money, you want to be out there, and certainly wasn’t the same. In 2012, we put together a good year and stayed healthy but still just didn’t feel like I was anywhere close to what I used to do with a baseball. Then, obviously, last year. There’s no doubt with a good off-season, I feel good.”
Peavy will enter 2014 coming off of a 2013 season where he was traded to Boston at the trade deadline and went 4-1 in the regular season before making one start in each of the playoff rounds in the Red Sox’ World Series run.
Being in the league for 12 seasons, he’s seen it all and knows what it takes to be successful, both as an individual and as a team. Going into the year, Peavy isn’t concerned about the individual accomplishments as much as whether or not the Red Sox can repeat.
“I’m just over baseball, personally,” Peavy said. “I just want to be healthy and be out there for my team. I know that we’re going to go about things the right way and compete. Especially, when you experience what I always wanted to experience last year. That’s all that it’s about for me at this point in time. I want to win on my fifth day and I want to be a teammate and help the other guys win on their days. I’m excited, personally, but I’m excited about finding a way to get back into the playoffs with this bunch who knows how to win and get it done and see if we can’t pull it off again.”
Going into the season at full strength and still being just over seven years away for the “Big 4-0,” this could finally be the year Peavy gets back to his 2007 Cy Young form.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Ryan Hananable on Twitter @Hannable84