Jake Peavy has yet to throw a pitch for the Chicago White Sox, but he's apparently nearing a return. The 28-year-old right-hander has not made a major league start since June 8, but claimed that he is ready to go after a solid bullpen session on Wednesday.
From the Chicago Tribune: "I have no reservations about anything. I'm so anxious to pitch. I'll take what I can get."
The Sox still have to make a decision concerning his time table for return. He has not yet been added to the rotation and still might throw another bullpen session.
Tuesday would make the most sense as a potential date for his White Sox debut. Carlos Torres is scheduled to pitch, and his status in the rotation is very tenuous after his disastrous start Tuesday night.
There is still another question to be answered though: Should the Sox even bother having Peavy pitch this season?
Some would argue that the risks far out-weigh the reward.
The Sox currently sit six-and-a-half games behind the Tigers in the division, so it would take a near miraculous run for them to have a shot at the playoffs. Peavy would likely be pitching in meaningless games that are unlikely to help or hurt the Sox in the long term.
However, there is definite potential for long-term harm if things go poorly in Peavy's return. Rushing Peavy and aggravating an injury could set the Sox back quite a bit.
With Peavy in the rotation, the Sox have a much better chance to contend next year. The Sox and their fans would hate to see him suffer any setbacks. That would be especially damaging given his contract status; Peavy is guaranteed $48 million over the next three seasons.
On the other hand, if Peavy wants to pitch and he's not in any pain, should the Sox really tell him he can't pitch? By most accounts his ankle hasn't bothered him for some time, and the line drive off his elbow was a relatively minor setback. I've never been a big fan of holding out healthy players unless playoff preparations are a factor.
While Peavy's return might not have significant tangible effects on the organization this year, he could provide a significant boost to morale. Holding him out means the organization and their fans will have to wait until Spring Training to see exactly what he can do, that's never a good feeling.
I know as a fan that I would feel an awful lot better during the offseason if I can see a relatively healthy Jake Peavy, even if it's only for a few starts when the team is playing out the string.
There also could be some financial benefit to his return. The Sox would likely have better walk up sales in any of his starts due to the excitement of finally getting a chance to see their big midseason acquisition. Season ticket sales and renewals also might see some improvement if he dominates.
The attendance figures at the Cell have generally been dependant on the success of the team, so seeing their new ace could boost sales and give the Sox a little more payroll to work with.
I can definitely understand the arguments for shutting him down. However, as long as Jake and the Sox feel that he is ready to pitch, I would rather see him pitch than hold him out. Sure, there is some injury risk, but you can say that about any player on the field. There's also the chance that he could get hurt during off-season conditioning or in Spring Training next year.
Peavy is going to have to pitch at some point for the Sox to start benefiting from his acquisition, so it might as well happen as soon as possible.