SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jake Peavy took a few seconds to think when asked which year he first got an invite to big league camp. It was 2001, he said, and then he shook his head and laughed.
“Yeah,” he said. “Wow.”
The fact is a reminder of just how long Peavy, who turns 34 in May, has been a big league starter. He broke into the big leagues in 2002 as a 21-year-old, and he has spent the offseasons since honing the same routine. Peavy doesn’t throw much before he comes to camp, preferring to save his bullets.
“You try to save as much as you can for those September, hopefully October, starts,” he said.
The routine — one he has stuck to for 10 years — has been especially important after World Series runs the past two seasons, one with the Giants and one with the Red Sox. Instead of focusing on his arm, Peavy finds other areas to improve, and this offseason he focused on dropping a few pounds. Peavy said he’s down 10 pounds from last season but hopes to add five pounds of “good weight” back to his lower body.
“I got a little bit lighter on my feet (because) I wanted to really on the bases and mobility-wise be light and agile,” Peavy said. “When you’re in the National League, it’s something different. You’re going to be running the bases and hitting, and all of that matters.”
Peavy was a good-hitting pitcher while with the Padres, batting .180 with two homers in eight seasons. He struggled at the plate after spending half a decade in the American League, going 0 for 23 for the Giants last season.
“It doesn’t matter that you’re a pitcher — when you’re hitting you’re a batter and you can do positive things,” Peavy said. “That’s something I really take seriously, to try to have a better chance of beating the other guy.”
The weight drop isn’t the only physical change Peavy is thinking about. After he cut Travis Ishikawa off on the bases during the raucous NLCS celebration last year, Peavy admitted that his eyesight is so poor that he had no hope of seeing Ishikawa’s blast leave the yard. That’s not ideal for a pitcher who has to see Buster Posey’s signs and, now that he’s back in the N.L., spot fastballs coming his way.
Peavy said he has seen multiple eye doctors and he’s looking for a fix. He is not considered a candidate for Lasik surgery, and said he’s waiting for technology to catch up so there’s a specific fix for his problems.
“I just have some astigmatisms and my eye shape is not quite normal,” he said. “I’m waiting on a real smart guy to go, 'Hey, this is how we fix these guys.'”
The Giants don’t need Peavy to change any of what he was doing last season. After a late July trade, Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts, helping the Giants reach the postseason despite Matt Cain’s elbow injury. Peavy had a rough spring debut at Scottsdale Stadium, giving up four hits and two earned runs in his one inning. All four balls were hit on the ground, though, with a couple just finding the right hole. Peavy said he was simply overthrowing because of the adrenaline rush of finally being on a mound.
“I was a kid out there, not jittery and nervous, but it’s just fun to see Jim Reynolds, the umpire, and Bob Melvin,” he said. “You’re just looking around — hey, I’m about to play a baseball game.”