Monday, August 31, 2009

Sox gamble on Peavy: Did they lose?

Kenny Williams is a gambler. He bets big, and big bettors can cash big paydays. Williams banked one gigantic payday: the 2005 World Series.

But one is never enough for a gambler. Winning is intoxicating – for the White Sox general manager and anybody else who calls the South Side of Chicago their home. They all want more, and Williams went out to improve his team’s chances for a second championship this decade.

Not content with his rotation, Williams traded four prospects for right-hander Jake Peavy, a talented piece the Padres could ill-afford to keep. Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, looked like a great fit into a rotation that had Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and veteran Jose Contreras in it.

The July 31 trade with the last-place Padres included a footnote: Peavy was coming to the White Sox with an injured right ankle, an injury that had kept his name on the disabled list since May 22.

Minor point to Williams. He figured Peavy’s injury would heal soon enough and the White Sox would have a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for a September run. So Williams went all in. Looks as if he's been dealt a bad hand.

Peavy had a rehab assignment last Saturday for Triple-A Charlotte. His right ankle felt fine; his right elbow did not. Throwing 68 pitches in an outing that lasted 3 1/3 innings, Peavy felt the after-effects of having taken a line drive on the elbow in his previous start.

Not good news for Williams.

Reports had the 28-year-old Peavy scheduled to return to pitch Thursday in a makeup game at Wrigley Field, but the wisdom of having Peavy pitch in a game where he had to bat and might have to run the bases made a return then unlikely.

So Thursday looks out, so does Friday now. So does maybe the following Friday. And the season? It might be out as well.

For an aching elbow isn’t a thing to dismiss easily. Just ask the New York Mets, who have been forced last week to shut down high-priced ace Johan Santana when his left elbow caused him discomfort. Santana is penciled in for surgery.

Right now, Peavy is penciled in for tests today, which should give Williams an idea on whether his cards got better. If they didn’t, he might as well throw in his hand on this season, because his White Sox, a team in a late August tailspin, won’t have enough quality pitching to overtake the front-running Tigers for the AL Central title.


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