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Finally healthy, White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy a stronger leader

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Updated: March 3, 2013 10:04PM



PEORIA, Ariz. — There’s more to leadership than pitching like a Cy Young winner. Jake Peavy knows it from the examples former teammates set before him.

He wants to be that kind of leader, too.

What’s allowing him to do it is being so healthy — for the first time as a White Sox in spring training, anyway — that he wasn’t even asked a question about his body after his first spring outing Sunday.

‘‘It’s tough to challenge guys and push guys when you’re not taking your turn every day,’’ Peavy said after pitching three so-so innings. ‘‘You don’t have to be statistically above everybody else, but you have to be an integral part and take your turn.

‘‘I want to encourage the guys, I want to be a friend, to be a teammate. I’ve accomplished some good things on the field, but when I’m done playing, I want John Danks and Chase Headley to speak of me like I would talk about Trevor Hoffman, Rondell White, Brian Giles and Doug Brocail.

‘‘These guys were incredible teammates. Those guys pushed you when you needed to be pushed, challenged you when you needed to be challenged, loved on you when you needed to be loved and came to your hotel room for a beer when you were ready to jump out the window because of three or four bad starts. I want to be that guy to lean on as one of the elder statesmen on the staff.’’

Peavy wasn’t concerned by a box score that showed him giving up three runs and five hits, including two doubles, over three innings. If results concern you, Peavy gave up three runs in two innings in his first spring start last year against the Milwaukee Brewers, then went on to top 30 starts and 200 innings for the first time since 2007.

All manager Robin Ventura wanted to see Sunday was Peavy getting his work in — work that consisted of throwing a lot of fastballs. It’s a worn-out exercise in early March, but it holds true.

‘‘That was the best part today,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He got out there and got it started.’’

The main thing is Peavy is well and less of a question mark than he’s ever been as a Sox. As Ventura pointed out after the game, assurances that Peavy’s latissimus dorsi, ankle and other minor ailments are behind him is why the Sox rushed to sign him for two more seasons.

‘‘This is the first time I’m free from that,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘I could blow up my elbow tomorrow — that’s the risk we all take. But I think the velocity today proves to a lot of guys around camp. I had a little bit more than I had at any point all of last year. That’s a nice sign for me.’’

While Peavy’s competitiveness rubs off on the pitching staff, young pitchers such as Chris Sale look up to him for leadership on many levels.

‘‘It’s not just baseball,’’ Sale said. ‘‘He has his kids in [the clubhouse this week], so I’m asking him questions about being a father. That’s the fun part. He’s a leader, but it’s not like he’s up here and we’re down here. We’re kind of on the same level, and it’s just a friendship and he’s kind of a voice.

‘‘When he speaks, everybody listens because when you look at what he’s done and what he’s gone through, he’s been up here and down there and everywhere in between. Anytime you can take anything from someone who has been around and seen a lot of things and been through every scenario, I love picking his brain.’’

PADRES 4, WHITE SOX 0

FOR THE RECORD: The Sox dropped to 4-3-2 with their quietest offensive showing of the spring. The Sox had four hits — singles by Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez (6-for-10 this spring), Stefan Gartrell and Conor Gillaspie (who raised his average to .357 with an infield hit).

PEAVY’S FIRST START: Right-hander Jake Peavy threw 44 pitches in three innings, allowing three runs, five hits and a walk. He struck out two and retired the last five batters he faced. ‘‘I threw mainly fastballs, just trying to get the command,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘You can only go so hard in your bullpen sessions and live BP. It’s nice to get a hitter in there. Obviously, they are a very aggressive team. But I used my fastball and got better as I went.’’

PENNED IN: Addison Reed and Matt Lindstrom each pitched a scoreless inning, and prospect Nestor Molina pitched his second scoreless two-inning outing. Lindstrom, a free-agent signee, hasn’t allowed a run in three appearances.

HE’S BACK: Shortstop Alexei Ramirez returned after missing four days to tend to a family matter in Miami. He went 0-for-3.

ROUGH ONE: Brent Morel went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was doubled off second on Paul Konerko’s line drive to third baseman Chase Headley.

ON DECK: vs. Giants, 2:05 p.m. (mlb.com), Camelback Ranch. Left-hander John Danks, who is recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder, will pitch in a game for the first time since he faced the Cubs last May. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will pitch for the Giants. Simon Castro, Donnie Veal, Brian Omogrosso, Jhan Marinez and Ramon Troncoso are also on the Sox’ pitching schedule.



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