Just when it seemed like Jake Peavy was on the verge of pitching for the Chicago White Sox in 2009, he suffered another setback during a minor league rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte.
While it appears the ankle he broke back in June has healed completely, a new problem has emerged: Tightness near his elbow.
After throwing 68 pitches in 3 1/3 innings on Saturday night, Peavy left following a visit from the Knights' trainer. This has most likely arisen from the line drive he took off the elbow during his last rehab start on Monday, preventing a potential White Sox debut on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
With this new development, and with the White Sox quickly falling out of the AL Central race, the only logical solution is to shut Peavy down now so that he comes back fresh and completely rehabilitated for Spring Training in 2010.
Peavy is under contract through 2012, with a club option for 2013, and general manager Kenny Williams knew this when he acquired Peavy on July 31.
Never mind the former Cy Young Award winner hadn't pitched in almost two months—he had a future to think about.
Some White Sox fans believe their team still has a chance this season, while others have jumped ship. The ship-jumpers will point out that their team has lost seven of nine and has fallen to third place in what is widely considered the worst division in baseball. Add in a record of two games below .500, and one realizes the Sox are who they thought they were: Very mediocre.
That being said, there's no need to rush Peavy in a season that is looking more lost by the day. A team's likely future ace just acquired at the trade deadline that has not suited up in the bigs with them yet cannot be put at risk to save the present team.
In the case of the White Sox, one could have said the same thing about Carlos Quentin two months ago. Quentin himself is not 100 percent healthy, but he has been in the lineup almost every night despite being far off his 2008 pace.
A 2010 rotation of Mark Buehrle, Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks at the top has potential to be the most dangerous in the American League. We could talk about who the fifth starter could be, but that's another topic.
If Peavy is only back at 90 percent or less and he hurts himself even worse in September, the rotation for next season becomes a liability. That's not what Williams wants, as he proved he is trying to build a winner by claiming Alex Rios off waivers.
On Opening Day next April, everyone starts at 0-0, and no other season's stats matter. Health does matter, though, and fans don't know what a less-than-100-percent Peavy would do for the 2009 Sox.
It's probably best that they don't know however.