Peavy adds to impressive arsenal
Padres ace hopes changeup will lead to even better results
SAN DIEGO -- Jake Peavy is hoping for a big change in 2008, which doesn't suggest that the Padres right-hander is discarding everything that allowed him to become the National League Cy Young Award winner last season.
If anything, Peavy is adding to his nasty arsenal of pitches, which is why the Astros could well see more than just a bevy of fastballs and sliders on Opening Day at PETCO Park, as Peavy is committed to using his changeup more this season.
"Here [Spring Training], I forced myself to throw it. During the season, it's not going to be a pitch I'm going to try to find during the game," Peavy said. "You just can't afford to, because you're results-oriented in the season.
"I hope by throwing it a lot [in Spring Training], by getting the feel and getting comfortable with it, it's going to be there a lot more than it has been in the past."
The notion of having Peavy add another pitch that misses bats likely won't sit well with National League hitters, who had a tough enough time with Peavy last season.
He won the NL Cy Young Award, unanimously at that. He also became just the second pitcher in 22 years to win the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown, leading the NL in victories (19), strikeouts (240) and ERA (2.54).
And, as many in the Padres' organization feel, Peavy is only getting better.
"I don't think we've seen the tip of the iceberg yet," general manager Kevin Towers said. "To know he's going to be the ace of our staff is huge. All you have to do is talk to opposing managers ... guys like [the Braves'] Bobby Cox and [the Cardinals'] Tony La Russa, and how they talk about the one guy they want to miss when they face the Padres is Jake Peavy."
The Friars are so committed to Peavy, they gladly handed over a $52 million contract in the offseason that will keep him in San Diego through 2012 and possibly 2013.
"He still has room to grow," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It's refining his game. He's 27 years old. I think he can learn to utilize his changeup more, change speeds, have a greater variance in velocity through his repertoire. Last year, it was a power arm -- hard fastball, hard slider, hard breaking pitch. I think he's learning to throw slower at times."
As for Peavy, he arrived in Spring Training ready to look ahead instead of wanting to reflect on his Cy Young campaign. He understands that 2007 will always be special, though he also realizes that this is a new season with new challenges to meet.
"It's 2008. I haven't done anything more than anyone in this room," said Peavy, scanning the clubhouse in Spring Training. "Baseball is a harsh sport. It's what have you done for me lately? Do I put numbers on it and try and be as good as last year? No. All that I am going to worry about is being good on March 31 for the Padres, and five days later try and win again in my next start."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.