SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Chicago Cubs are coming. In November, they were that storm way off in the distance. But with spring training ending in a week, baseball is bracing for a Cubbie Hurricane that is expected to blast its way through the major leagues. The noise they’ll make in Wrigleyville could be something short of deafening.
But for a pitcher who once upon a time almost became a Cub, was later traded to the White Sox and went on to play for two World Series championship teams, Jake Peavy has a message to those who believe there will only be one winning baseball team in Chicago this season.
“Chicago’s a great town. I know there’s a lot of talk on the other side of town. Don’t sleep on that South Side team,” Peavy said about the White Sox in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.
When the White Sox decided to change course and start a rebuild in 2013, Peavy was the first domino to fall. He was dealt to the Red Sox in a three-team trade that brought Avisail Garcia from the Tigers to the White Sox. That deal also included pitcher Frankie Montas, who was a key piece in the Todd Frazier trade this off-season.
One by one, Rick Hahn and company have added pieces from here, there and everywhere to get the White Sox back in contention: Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, David Robertson, Carlos Rodon, Alex Avila, Jimmy Rollins, and Frazier to name a few.
Facing his former team on Sunday for the second time this spring, Peavy has gotten an up close look at this new White Sox arsenal, and he’s come away impressed.
“I told Jimmy (Rollins) and Brett Lawrie, ‘You all have a good team,’ and those guys believe it.”
But for most of Chicago to believe, the White Sox have to prove it on the field, something they haven’t done since 2012 when they led the Central Division from May until September, but faded down the stretch, finishing second to the Tigers.
That seems so long ago now.
Since 2012, the White Sox have finished a combined 62 games under .500.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
One key ingredient that was missing from the White Sox in Peavy’s last year was energy. All of the starting position players had quiet, laid-back personalities, which can be a detriment over the course of a long, grueling 162-game season.
“You have to have those energy guys. We were lacking that,” Peavy said.
Now the White Sox have Eaton, Lawrie, Cabrera, Rollins and Frazier. Energy alone doesn’t equate to a winning season, but it’s awfully tough to win without it.
“The players in the clubhouse that can bring that energy on a daily basis should change the (White Sox) makeup and the way they go about it,” Peavy said. “I think the South Side of Chicago could be as fun as the North if those guys figure out a way to play together and become a team.”
And if they do, Peavy has one wish.
“Let’s meet in the World Series.”