For the first three years of his White Sox career, Jake Peavy was a beacon of unreliability, with cascade injuries undermining every attempt to take the lead of the rotation. But since the start of the 2012 season, he's been able to walk the talk of a veteran leader.
A fractured rib jeopardized that roll, but while it cost him six weeks, it didn't rob him of his momentum. He showed no hindrances during an outstanding showing against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon, and he fulfilled the two things asked of him, explicitly or implicitly: Get the win, and get out with your trade value intact. Check and check, and now everybody waits.
It certainly felt like last rites. The White Sox wore their doubleknits on a weekday on request from Peavy, as he never got to pitch with the '83 throwbacks, or even the 1972 red pinstripes last season, which is rather remarkable when considering the odds of missing all Sunday home day games.
The fans wanted to make sure they ushered him out on a high note, giving him a standing ovation when he headed to the dugout after the seventh inning ... and another when Peavy actually exited the game. He started the eighth for some reason, gave up a solo shot to Victor Martinez, and then it was over. Still, one last too-long hook seemed like an appropriate parting gift from Robin Ventura, anyway.
The gestures didn't go unnoticed. As Peavy described how he expected to handle the certain week ahead, he saluted the fans who saluted him:
"My gut feeling tells me I could be traded and I could be a part of this going forward," said Peavy with a resigned smile. "Either way, I'll be OK. I'm a big boy and understand the situation.
"I'll be happy to stay here and be the best teammate I can be, grind it out the rest of the season and make sure we keep playing hard and show up to win every day. If I get traded, I'll give the boys a big hug and I'm sure a few tears will be shed, leaving the friendships here. [...]
"It was very humbling. It was emotional for me," Peavy said. "If it was the last time I pitch here at U.S. Cellular, with this uniform on, it was a nice way to go out. It meant the absolute world to me. I hope everyone knows that."
Peavy's start was well-attended by scouts, as Jayson Stark counted the Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Braves, Orioles, Reds and Rangers among the representatives, while Susan Slusser said Oakland sent a pair of eyes, too.
There hasn't been any word of Peavy's performance accelerating any trade talk yet, but Jon Heyman said Boston is the team that would be best-served by picking him up:
Boston is known to be pretty possessive of its better prospects. But this would be a good time to make an exception. No one has a better prospect list than the Red Sox, and with so many very good ones on their rosters they won't have to consider including either of their top two guys, shortstop Xander Bogaerts or center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Even taking those two out of the equation, the Red Sox prospect list is imposing. It includes pitchers Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman and Drake Britton, third baseman Gavin Cecchini, catcher Christian Vazquez, outfielder Bryce Brentz and others.
They've done a spectacular job drafting players, and that trade with the Dodgers is the gift of a lifetime, but there's no sense hoarding prospects. Pick two prospects, and make a deal.
The White Sox weren't so fortunate with their other notable pitching asset, as Crain wasn't able to bounce back from a less-than-encouraging bullpen session Tuesday for a follow-up on Thursday. He played catch and called it a day:
"It's just something that never quite warmed up and it didn't feel good playing catch, let alone getting off a mound."
Don Cooper called it "a slight setback," but it's a big blow to his trade possibilities. His return is pushed back after the trade deadline, which greatly limits the White Sox's options. A team could trade for him in his injured state and roll the dice that he just needs an extra week, but more likely, the Sox will try to move him through the waiver system and hope that the team that claims him can make a compelling offer. Since his cost isn't prohibitive, there are fewer obstacles to prevent a team from claiming him for the sole purpose of gumming up another contender's opportunity to bolster its bullpen.