For the White Sox, the last two months have stripped away a lot of losing's silver lining.
First, Jake Peavy broke his rib. Then Jesse Crain when on the DL with a shoulder injury. All the while, Alex Rios got himself stuck in a six-week slump.
So in this regard, Saturday afternoon offered the best news in quite some time.
Peavy showed no ill effects from his rib injury, returning from his own six-week absence with six strong innings in the Sox's 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves. He wasn't missing anything on his stuff -- actually, he had added to it, topping out at 95 mph according to Brooks.
Peavy said that he came out throwing a little too hard, and blamed that instead of poor defense for his rough start. He eventually settled into his stuff:
‘‘I think he got better as the game went along,’’ [Robin] Ventura said. ‘‘He was getting stronger, and that was good to see. He was still competing, doing all that stuff, but to me, he just got better.’’
‘‘I definitely felt like I got a little bit stronger,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘I probably came out of the gate too fast because I was excited. I had a little extra adrenaline.
‘‘I was able to pull the reins back a little bit there, and then toward the middle part of the game, I got my feel back.’’
It was a performance that backed up Jon Heyman's pregame column, in which he said Peavy may be the top name on the trade market due to his favorable contract. Sure enough, a half-dozen scouts were in attendance while Peavy pitched, representing Toronto, Boston, Seattle, Baltimore, Arizona and the Yankees (although Ken Rosenthal said the latter two aren't in on Peavy, with the Yankees merely doing routine work). Besides those teams, the Washington Nationals are another team keeping an eye on Peavy.
Rios also answered some questions by taking Friday night's benching (mostly) in stride. The incident itself didn't diminish his trade value in and of itself, but any resulting acrimony could've presented an uncomfortable situation.
It wasn't completely seamless. Rios did own up to his mistake, but he disagreed about the way Ventura delivered the news. The way he phrased it is open to interpretation -- Scott Merkin considered it a closed case, while Scot Gregor left it open-ended in his account:
"It could've been managed in a better way, but it's something that shouldn't have happened," Rios said.
There's more, and these thoughts from Rios do not figure to go over well with most White Sox fans...
"I'm cool with him," Rios said of Ventura. "He has to do what he has to do, you know? But the situation could've been handled a little better. But he has to do what he has to do."
How should Ventura have handled the situation?
"If he wants to send a message to myself, it would've gone through better if he put me in his office and talked to me personally, you know?" Rios said. "If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked. But I don't know what his intentions were. But that's what I wanted to see."
Ventura did want to make a statement to the team, but he didn't criticize Rios for having objections:
"I understand that, but again, you're handling it for 25 guys," Ventura said. "I get where he's coming from, but from where I'm coming he probably understands how I have to do it. That was just simple and it was handled and you go on from there."
But as they say, grand slams heal all wounds. By going 3-for-5 with five RBI, the Rios-related questions were far more pleasant. Both parties refused to entertain the notion that the benching fueled his effort, so hopefully that's the end of it. For his part, Rios said he doesn't want to go anywhere:
Despite Friday’s incident and the Sox’s 37-56 record, Rios said he wants to stay.
"Of course, yeah," he said. "I’ve spent a lot of time here and the guys that are here are nice. The staff is very good and the city is good too. The whole experience, I’ve been so grateful to experience playing in Chicago. It feels like I’m at home right now. You know, I still would like to stay here."
Which he might say anyway, although that seems like overdoing it if he and Ventura really had a rift. But even if they don't see eye to eye, they may only have 10 more days to tolerate each other.
Crain's status remains a nagging issue. He told reporters that he hoped to be back on the mound by next weekend, although since he just started playing catch from 80 feet, that seems a little ambitious.