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Notes: Peavy in, Phils tapped out & more
Twenty-six pitches, two scoreless innings, 92 mph on the radar gun — amazing stuff from a pitcher coming off an unprecedented injury for a baseball player.
The danger was that Peavy would grow intoxicated by his success and try to accelerate his return to the majors. But so far he is taking a more level-headed approach to his comeback than he did after he joined the White Sox with an ankle injury in 2009.
“I told him I’d rather see him pitch in September and October than April and May,” Peavy’s agent, Barry Axelrod, told FOXSports.com. “We’ve talked a lot about it. Other people have talked to him about it. Hopefully guys mature and learn as they go through the process. He’s saying the right things.”
The White Sox expect that they will need to slow Peavy at some point, and plan to err on the side of caution as he continues his recovery from surgery to repair a torn latissimus dorsi muscle tendon. But Peavy bears responsibility, too, and Axelrod says he advised the pitcher to be his own best advocate.
Peavy, who turns 30 on May 31, seems to be getting the message. Last Saturday, on the day after he made his spring debut against the Angels, Peavy told reporters, “We’re not going to try to be a hero to break camp with the team. Our ultimate goal is to be a contributing factor to the team’s success (for the long haul).”
The circumstances for Peavy this spring are much different than they were in ’09, when the White Sox acquired him from the Padres on July 31 even though he was on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right ankle.
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Peavy rushed back to join his new team for the pennant race, making three starts in September. The effect on his mechanics might have contributed to his lat injury last July.
“We were flabbergasted that they approached him and wanted to trade for him — flabbergasted,” Axelrod says. “He probably shouldn’t have gone out and pitched the three games he did. He was always pushing hard to prove himself to his new team and teammates. He probably did overdo it, push himself too much.”
Peavy isn’t likely to make the same mistake again.
Phillies tapped out
The Phillies’ signing of Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract came with an additional price: the loss of payroll flexibility for the foreseeable future.
Thus, the Phils are unlikely to make a move to replace outfielder Domonic Brown, who is out four to six weeks with a broken hand. The team also would be hamstrung if second baseman Chase Utley’s knee troubles lingered into the season.
The Phillies’ payroll projects to more than $163 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That figure, while well short of the $178 million luxury-tax threshold for 2011, would be more than $20 million over the previous club record, set last season.
Iglesias: Worth the Red Sox money?
Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias is proving worthy of his defensive reputation, but some rival executives continue to question whether he will hit.
The Yankees, among other clubs, were skeptical of Iglesias offensively, and balked at the contract that the Red Sox awarded the Cuban defector in September 2009: four years, $8.25 million.
Iglesias, 21, might never hit for power, but would be an asset even if he produced a modest batting average and on-base percentage. His defense is that outstanding.
No reason to rush Jays' prospect
Third baseman Brett Lawrie is off to a fast start in his first spring with the Blue Jays, but it would be an upset if he made the club.
True, Lawrie looks better than expected at third, showing good hands and a strong arm. Awarding him the job would enable the Jays to keep Jose Bautista in right field, his preferred position. But there is no other compelling reason for the Jays to accelerate Lawrie's development.
The last thing the Jays would want to do is demote Lawrie if he struggles, forcing Bautista to make a temporary move back to third. Better Lawrie should refine his defense at Triple-A, then join the team to stay when he is ready.
Pirates trying to fix infield
One way for a team to help a young pitching staff is by upgrading its infield defense, and the Pirates attempted to do just that by signing first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year, $5 million contract.
The Pirates, while still looking for a long-term shortstop, believe third baseman Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker will improve defensively. Alvarez, though, lacks range and ultimately might switch to first, a move that could be hastened if the Pirates draft Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the first pick in the June amateur draft.
Rendon is considered a likely top-three selection, but the draft also is deep in advanced college pitching. The Pirates, rather than draft for need, plan to pick the best player. Rendon was the national college player of the year as a sophomore, but at 6 feet and 190 pounds lacks the size of a Ryan Zimmerman (6-3, 228) or Evan Longoria (6-2, 210).
“Corner bats are typically large men,” one general manager says. “He is not that.”
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