Chris Sale knew his work schedule for the upcoming three-game set against Boston, with the White Sox ace pitching in the series finale Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale was not aware of the set day for Jake Peavy, his good friend and mentor with the White Sox until Peavy was moved to Boston as part of a three-team deal on July 30 last season.
"There's nothing more that I'd love than to have him throw on Thursday," said Sale with a broad smile.
That anticipation quickly turned to disappointment for Sale, when he found out Peavy starts for Boston in Tuesday's series opener on Jackie Robinson Day, and it's Jon Lester on Thursday.
"I said, 'I know you wanted an Old Man Peavy but you're going to get our lefty Thursday night.' I said, 'You're going to be the best left-hander, you've got to surpass this guy that we're throwing at you,'" Peavy said. "Thursday night will be fun. Chris Sale is such a good kid and one of my dear, dear buddies, and I pull for him and still keep in good contact with him on a weekly basis really. Two pretty good left-handers going at you Thursday night."
Peavy pitched parts of five seasons for the White Sox after coming over from the Padres in 2009. Though Peavy is the most recent departure from Chicago to Boston, the Red Sox roster also features catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitching coach Juan Nieves.
Nieves served as White Sox bullpen coach from 2008-12, before helping the Red Sox win the '13 World Series championship. Pierzynski holds a special place among the White Sox fan base as the starting catcher on their '05 World Series title squad and the man behind the plate through '12.
Pierzynski was honored by the White Sox via a video scoreboard tribute when he returned with Texas last season. The fans and players will look forward to seeing these ex-White Sox, but the good will ends once the first pitch is thrown.
"You wish them all the best, except for when they are playing us," Sale said. "A.J. being my first catcher, Peavy being kind of the leader of our staff for the first couple of years I was here, it's different. I would like to have those guys here. It's kind of the nature of the beast and that's how the business goes."
Peavy actually started against the White Sox on Aug. 31 at Fenway Park. He allowed five hits and two earned runs over seven innings and 109 pitches, picking up the win in a 7-2 Red Sox victory.
His homecoming comes against a new-look White Sox lineup and with rookie Erik Johnson as his mound counterpart.
"It will be strange. We enjoyed having him here and he was a good pitcher," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said of Peavy. "I'm sure guys will have fun. They will try to do something to distract him, I'm sure."
"For us, it was kind of fun, something new in September," said White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn of last year's matchup. He has two career homers against Peavy. "For him, he's trying to get his team in the playoffs so it meant probably more to him because of the situation. It's definitely less of a circus because it's a year removed. It's always fun for me because he's one of my buddies."
Cold weather on Tuesday could be as big of an issue for Peavy as the White Sox. And while he might spend time with Dunn or Sale in between games, that friendship will be tossed aside on the field.
"This guy is like my family. It's like facing a brother. It's a little bit different," Peavy said of Dunn. "I promise you, when you get out on the field, I don't have any hate in my life outside the game of baseball, but I really ... when I get on the field, I don't like the opposition.
"If I had to use the word hate, I hate them. I don't want to like them. I think I can really get in that mode, even though it's the White Sox. I'm going to spend some time with 'Dunner' over these next few days, but I will not like him on Tuesday night and he won't like me."
White Sox: Beckham returns to action
Gordon Beckham hadn't played on his injury rehab assignment since April 3 with Double-A Birmingham, but he was cleared for baseball activity Sunday morning and returned to the Barons' lineup. He tweaked his strained left oblique muscle during Spring Training and opened the 2014 season on the disabled list.
Beckham singled to left in his first at-bat as Birmingham's designated hitter, batting second, and then walked and scored on Trayce Thompson's home run during the Barons' 9-1 victory. There is no timetable for Beckham's return to the White Sox, although both general manager Rick Hahn and Ventura said their second baseman won't be rushed. He needs to play a few games in a row in the field at full health.
Red Sox: Badenhop off to slow start
Reliever Burke Badenhop, one of the key new pieces to the bullpen, has gotten off to a slow start. After a scoreless first outing, Badenhop has given up runs in his last three appearances.
"I just need to be ahead in the count more. I thought I made some pretty decent pitches," Badenhop said. "I can't possibly be giving up more hits than I have been, knock on wood. So I just need to be in the zone and be a little more aggressive and stuff like that. It obviously wasn't the start I wanted to see. Hopefully there's light at the end of that tunnel."
Though Badenhop's best role is to come in and get a double play, he's also been used in some long-relief situations.
"His multi-inning ability is what puts him as a leading candidate early in the game as we've done in recent series," Boston manager John Farrell said. "[Saturday] he was the available guy as we've gone through a number of lefties and who else was available down in that bullpen. He's well aware that he could slide in at any point during the game."
• White Sox infielder Marcus Semien is hitting .412 (7-for-17) in the seventh inning or later.
• White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu's sixth-inning single Sunday snapped an 0-for-10 streak.
• By a wide margin, Pierzynski has played more games at U.S. Cellular Field than in any other venue. In 571 games there, Pierzynski is a .283 hitter with 76 homers and 252 RBIs.