In 2003, San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds was nearing the peak of his record-breaking career. Jake Peavy was a second-year starter for the Padres.
When they clashed mid-summer, San Diego’s staff ordered an intentional walk for Bonds.
“And Peavy was furious,” recalled Lou Merloni, Peavy’s teammate that season.
San Diego’s catcher came to the mound to convince Peavy. The pitching coach and manager tried, too.
“But this guy didn’t want to pitch around anybody, let alone the greatest hitter on the planet,” Merloni said. “Jake’s a great teammate, but once he gets on the mound he has this fiery intensity. He’s so competitive and I think he’s a great pickup for Boston.”
The Red Sox acquired Peavy from the Chicago White Sox Tuesday night, in a three-team deal that sent 23-year-old shortstop/third baseman Jose Iglesias to Detroit.
In Peavy, the Sox receive a former Cy Young winner. The 32-year-old righthander bolsters a starting rotation keen on competing with Tampa Bay’s shutdown staff.
“We’ve always liked [our team],” first baseman Mike Napoli said before Wednesday night’s game against the Mariners. “We thought we were a good team and we were fine with what we had, but the front office made us better and we’re all excited.”
Pitching coach Juan Nieves is excited for a pitcher who has “a doctorate’s degree in pitching.”
“He’s in that group with El Duque [Orlando Hernandez],” said Nieves, who worked with Peavy in Chicago. “They can read swings, they can read hitters.”
Reliever Matt Thornton, formerly Peavy’s teammate in Chicago, is excited to have his good friend back in the clubhouse. The two are in the same fantasy football league.
“He’s a guy that will mesh well with everyone,” Thornton said. “Really a team-first guy.”
Manager John Farrell is excited to add a veteran who will “relish the opportunity” to contribute to a pennant race.
“He is ecstatic about joining the Red Sox,” Farrell said. “Not only looking forward to pitching at Fenway Park, but for the Red Sox in this city.”
Farrell and Peavy spoke Tuesday night. The pitcher was scheduled to arrive in Boston Wednesday night (he was not at Fenway Park as the Sox played the Mariners).
Farrell said he would sit down with Peavy Thursday to discuss “his routine and what his needs are.”
Peavy will throw a light bullpen session Thursday and debut sometime during this homestand, Farrell said.
The manager hinted it might be Saturday against Arizona. Farrell said he likes the idea of splitting up lefthanders.
Lefty Jon Lester is currently scheduled for Friday and lefty Felix Doubront for Saturday.
Peavy (8-4, 4.28 ERA) was scheduled to pitch Tuesday night for Chicago.
“I’m really looking forward for the fans here in Boston to watch him pitch,” said Nieves.
Peavy’s career strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.2 to 1) ranks 14th among active pitchers.
Napoli said he faced Peavy a few times. “He doesn’t give in,” Napoli said. “He keeps the ball down and gets ground balls.”
“His command is impeccable,” Nieves said. “He doesn’t walk anybody.”
When among teammates, Merloni called Peavy “a good ol’ country boy.”
Peavy, born in Alabama, reads hunting magazines in the clubhouse. He likes to talk about hunting a lot, Merloni said.
“Then you see him on the mound and he’s a completely different animal,” Merloni said. “He talks to himself, he’s swearing, he’ll do anything it takes to get that batter out.”
Said Farrell: “You’re going to see a guy that is not afraid to talk to himself out there. Whether that’s to fire himself up or to rise to the occasion in the moment. He loves to compete.”
Farrell thinks Peavy will be “an outstanding fit” in Boston.
“A vast majority of our clubhouse shares the same approach to the game,” Farrell said.
As for that game in 2003 against Bonds’s Giants?
“I’m sure Barry got him a few times when he challenged him,” Merloni said. “But you can’t knock a guy for wanting to compete.”
Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.