MINNEAPOLIS — When all the potential free agent pitchers are mentioned, Jake Peavy’s name gets buried. He gets lost on his own team, on which Jon Lester has been given the majority of the attention by management and the media.
Make no mistake, Peavy wants to remain a Red Sox. Maybe Tuesday night’s outing wasn’t the best way to make his case. But every starter has one of those nights he’d like to forget, and allowing five runs in the second inning of Boston’s 8-6 walkoff loss to the Twins made it one of those nights for Peavy.
“I couldn’t make any pitches to get out of it,” lamented Peavy after the no-decision. “They scored too many runs. I’ve got to do a better job. I wasn’t making pitches. That was a scrappy lineup. I’ve got to get better and I will before Sunday night [vs. Detroit].”
One of the things he’s got to improve upon is walks. He walked two more Tuesday night and now has 27 after entering the game second in the American League in walks allowed. He’s also allowed a home run in each of his eight starts this season.
In good times and bad, Peavy, who is accountable for his poor outings, loves being a Red Sox.
“Obviously, I want to pitch in Boston,” said Peavy before his start. “The last year of my life, it’s engulfed me. To be a member of Red Sox has been an unbelievable experience for me. Of course this is a place where I want to be. I’m on board with the winning here.
“I want to be on a team that’s going to win. I’m not showing up to the ballpark for anything else but for the goal of winning the World Series. I can’t be with a team that’s not trying to win the World Series.”
He entertained some of his teammates at his ranch in Alabama on the off-day. He said the boys enjoyed themselves, got to Minnesota late Monday night, and “got a good night’s sleep and we’re ready to go.”
Peavy has been flip-flopped in the rotation with Felix Doubront, so he started Tuesday night with Doubront going Wednesday night.
Manager John Farrell said he did it to set up more righthanded pitchers for the Detroit series this weekend at Fenway Park.
Peavy was willing to change days.
“I love the game of baseball,” said Peavy, who allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks in 4⅓ innings. “I certainly want to play as long as I can be a valuable member of the ballclub. I want to bring as much as I can to the whole ballclub. If I can bring experience, that’s what I’ll bring. But the main thing is just worry about what you’re doing. You help in any area you can help. It’s a fun place to be.”
Peavy, who turns 33 at the end of the month, said he has not had any dialogue with the Sox about his future. Peavy will earn a $14.5 million salary in 2014. He also had a player option that would have vested at $15 million if he pitched 400 innings last year and this year. That won’t happen.
Over his career he’s earned about $103 million, so it’s not about the money — though he wants what’s fair.
“We’ll talk about that when the time comes,” Peavy said. “I won’t think about it until it’s time. I’m just worried about the Twins right now.
“I don’t put any added pressure on myself on that. I’m very laid-back and easygoing. I do everything I can to prepare me for my future, but it’s not something I allow to stress me out or affect the way I perform or don’t perform, or make me lose any sleep.
“I’m all in for 2014. I’m just trying to figure out like the rest of us here how to put ourselves in the same position as last year. A lot of guys in here with same goals.”
Peavy knows he’s not the Peavy of five or six years ago, when he could throw it through the mitt, good enough to win the 2007 National League Cy Young for the San Diego Padres.
“What I’ve learned is you never quit growing as player or a pitcher,” he said. “In last five or six years I’ve been around great role models for me to watch. Greg Maddux changed my career. Being around some of the catchers I’ve been around, I certainly think I’m better than I ever have been as far as managing the game, or to come up with a big plan on how to attack that team that night. It would be nice to go back, but I’m happy with the way I’m doing things right now.”
He’s learned it’s not about trying to overpower people anymore.
“Managing a lineup, figuring out a way to beat the opposing team, that’s all it’s about now,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to swallow your pride and not go after every hitter with everything you have. You get older and you find ways to keep winning.”
Peavy knows that being a free agent at 33 he won’t be as attractive as if he was 29 or 30. It’ll mark the first time Peavy will have gone into free agency; he’s always been tied up with long-term deals.
Teams will question how much he has left, what he can offer. Yet he knows he has a lot left to give.
“If you’re wary of me, don’t sign me,” he said. “I’m going to be a valuable member to a team in 2015. I really believe that with all my heart. That’s all I can tell an opposing GM.
“I’ll be 33 years old at the end of this month. I know I’ve had some injuries and a lot of innings, but at the same time I do everything I can do on a daily basis to keep my body healthy. I just don’t have it in me to sell myself other than what I do on the mound every start I make.
“If I can meet face-to-face with a GM, we’ll talk about those things.”
Peavy was Boston’s gun for hire last season, acquired July 30 in a three-team deal in which Boston parted with Jose Iglesias, who went to the Tigers.
Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA for Boston in 10 starts and provided them veteran depth while Clay Buchholz was out with his shoulder/neck injury.
Peavy enjoyed the fruits of Boston’s championship season, blending in with the veteran pitchers. He doesn’t want his stay to be brief.
And so he hopes, when the time is right, there’ll be at least some attempt by the Red Sox to keep him.
Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.