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Jake Peavy trade continues to be a sore spot for White Sox

The White Sox should have known thJake Peavy is fragile ever since they traded for him 2009.

The White Sox should have known that Jake Peavy is fragile ever since they traded for him in 2009.

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Updated: June 7, 2011 8:21PM

Jake Peavy has been a bust for the White Sox because they failed to read the label when they acquired him from the San Diego Padres in 2009: Handle With Care.

A hard thrower who can pile up pitch counts on his best days, Peavy was babied by the Padres even when he was healthy. So with Peavy coming off of major surgery, it would make sense that he would need even more tender loving care in 2011.

But that’s a lesson the White Sox don’t seem to grasp. Peavy suffered a strained groin muscle in 7-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday — five days after he threw 112 pitches in a victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Unfortunately, Peavy can’t tolerate high pitch counts in his condition. He needs less strain and more rest. But the Sox keep using him as if he were 100 percent healthy. You never really are after the ground-breaking surgery Peavy had to reattach a lat tendon to his right arm.

In two starts this season where Peavy has had five or more days rest and is coming off starts of fewer than 90 pitches, he’s 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. In two starts after throwing 111 and 112 pitches, he’s 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA — and one injury.

A small sample, but it’s unlikely a coincidence. Peavy has always been more effective when he’s babied. In his Cy Young Award season of 2007, he rarely started an inning after he had reached 100 pitches — no matter how well he was pitching. He was pulled after seven innings nine times when he had allowed three hits or fewer. He pitched in the eighth inning only once that season — and lasted three batters and 10 pitches before being relieved after allowing a run.

Peavy always has been susceptible to being overworked. He was 7-0 with a 1.60 ERA and 0.866 WHIP on five days rest during his Cy Young season (11-4, 2.58, 1.138 on four days rest). When the Padres got greedy in the heat of a pennant race and used him on three days rest in early September, Peavy allowed eight runs in four innings in a 9-6 loss to the Diamondbacks. It was a costly move. The Padres ended up losing the division title in a playoff game against the Rockies — when Peavy allowed six runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

And that was before Peavy’s injury problems ensued. And while the Sox haven’t been abusive in their use of Peavy, it’s pretty clear he needs more TLC than he’s been getting.

The Sox have one of the best pitching coaches in baseball in Don Cooper, but they seem to have a blind spot when it comes to handling with care. In 2010, it was nearly as evident that Freddy Garcia was more susceptible to wear-and-tear after injury problems. But after Garcia threw 98 and 99 pitches in consecutive starts, they let Garcia throw 111 pitches in seven innings against the Yankees, even though they led 9-2 after four innings.

Garcia came up lame in his next two starts. By the time he returned to form after a two-week rest (1-0, 2.08 in two starts), a 2-12 stretch had doomed the Sox’ playoff hopes.

The Sox at least were in a bind then. But they should know better by now. Memo to Ken Williams: this isn’t the Jake Peavy you traded for.

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