Jake Peavy advises Chris Sale to listen to what his body tells him
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 15, 2012 8:36PM
‘‘It’s almost a no-win situation. . . . If you don’t pitch, you’re soft. . . . If you go pitch and do well, you’re a gamer. But if you pitch through pain and get hurt, ‘I can’t believe you were out there.’ ’’ JAKE PEAVY, on the tenuous health of Chris Sal
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:18AM
Don’t go to the training room, kid. Young pitchers in the training room are soft. They can’t handle the grind of 162 games, and everyone is watching.
Stay away from massages and any type of outside-the-box modes of recovery. If you get caught practicing them, you’re just another prima donna.
Don’t complain about soreness. Soreness gets you treatment, which gets you out of your starting spot. There’s another arm waiting. He’s younger, hungrier and tired of riding minor-league buses.
Welcome to White Sox left-hander Chris Sale’s brain.
These are the thoughts that have taken hold of his mind the last two weeks, ever since soreness in his pitching elbow turned into headlines. This is the high-wire act he has been trying to walk, balancing his health and future against baseball customs that, although primitive, still linger.
‘‘It’s just a fine line between if you’re injured or if you’re just playing with pain,’’ Sox right-hander Jake Peavy said. ‘‘It’s a touchy situation. The whole thing has been.’’
No pitcher knows more about that ‘‘fine line’’ than Peavy. That’s why he has been trying to convince Sale that the game is different than it was when he came up in 2002.
The value organizations have put on young pitchers in the last decade is evidence of that. Major-league-ready pitching prospects used to be sent from team to team like trading cards, but those types of deals are few and far between these days.
Teams today covet young arms. They are controllable assets to be stockpiled and nurtured, not ridiculed by veterans for visiting the trainer or called out by fans for not being ‘‘a gamer.’’
‘‘He’s a prized jewel,’’ Peavy said of Sale. ‘‘He could be as good as anybody that we’ve seen run through here in a long time if he stays healthy. Biggest thing I told him is just listen to your body.
‘‘But it’s almost a no-win situation. I’ve been in that same situation since I’ve been [with the Sox], and I’m a veteran. If you don’t pitch, you’re soft and you’re not giving everything you’ve got. If you go pitch and do well, then you’re a gamer. But if you pitch through pain and get hurt, ‘I can’t believe you were out there.’
‘‘It’s a Catch-22, and I’ve been fighting that war since I’ve been here. I was getting applauded for getting back so soon [from surgery in 2010 to reattach his lat] and working hard, but when I [started] struggling a little bit, then it’s talked about how I’m not doing my job. There’s nothing you can really do. There’s no answer on this.’’
Peavy and Sale have spoken frequently in the last few weeks. In fact, Peavy said he has helped set up appointments for Sale to see the Sox’ masseuse.
‘‘If you were young and you were in the training room, that was kind of looked down upon when I came up,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘We have to stress that those days have come and gone.
‘‘That’s the best advice I can give and something I wish I did a better job of when I was his age. I went on about eight years just like him, where if I went in that training room and said anything . . . I mean, the times I did go on the DL was me fighting and screaming, ‘I’m just a little sore!’ Then you’re wishing you wouldn’t have said anything to the trainer. No, you need to be proactive.’’
Peavy said he has no idea if Sale’s future lies in starting or in closing, but he knows there’s a future. A bright one, at that.
‘‘He’s someone that needs to be protected,’’ Peavy said.
From himself, from the organization or from an outdated baseball badge of courage?
Maybe all of the above.