BOSTON – Juan Nieves is ready for another reunion.
Nieves, who served as the White Sox’ bullpen coach for five seasons before joining the Red Sox’ coaching staff this past offseason, was already reunited with reliever Matt Thornton. Now, he’ll be reunited with starter Jake Peavy, who the Red Sox acquired from the White Sox on Tuesday. Nieves is looking forward to the opportunity.
“He’s been around for a while. I remember him even when he was in the minor leagues in San Diego,” Nieves said Wednesday. “He brings the whole package to us and I’m really looking forward for the fans here in Boston to watch him pitch.”
Both Nieves and Red Sox manager John Farrell talked at length Wednesday about Peavy’s competitiveness, which is considered one of the right-hander’s strengths. Whether it’s Peavy’s preparation or his demeanor on the mound, he consistently shows the make-up of a pitcher who’s willing to battle every fifth day regardless of the circumstances.
“He’ll be the ultimate warrior. He competes every pitch, gives everything he has and leaves it on the field. [He’s] a good teammate who will fit in really well here,” Nieves said. “[I’m] really looking forward to watching him compete again and be part of the grind here.”
One of Peavy’s most redeeming qualities is his ability to attack the strike zone. The 32-year-old rarely beats himself with walks, and he still possesses the ability to punch hitters out. Peavy’s 4.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks sixth in the American League among starters with at least 80 innings pitched.
“His command is impeccable. He doesn’t walk anybody,” Nieves said. “He keeps the ball inside the ballpark. He commands four or five pitches. He’s been very solid and, like I said before, I think his biggest strength is his demeanor, his competitiveness and his ability to win every game and stay as long as possible. [He] actually [wants] to outlast the opponent. He wants to pitch longer than the other guys do, and if the other guy happens to be a short outing, he wants to be there the whole game, so it’s wonderful to see.”
Peavy has good stuff, even if he’s not quite the same pitcher who won the NL Cy Young back in 2007. But according to Nieves, it’s Peavy’s smarts and game management that separate him from his peers.
“Very savvy. Actually, he’s in that group with El Duque (Orlando Hernandez), guys like that that have a doctorate’s degree in pitching, because these guys really know; they can read swings, they can read hitters actually swinging at first pitches, [and understand] the situation,” Nieves said. “He’s very good. He knows when to attack the hitter [and] when to retreat. And of course here there’s a little bit of a different mind frame when you pitch at Fenway, but he fits right into what we believe — working fast, throwing strikes and attacking strike zone.”
Peavy has been solid for the White Sox in 13 starts this season, but the best might be forthcoming. He’s healthy, pitching in the midst of a pennant race and joining a coach who he enjoyed success under as recently as last season.
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