Padres Interview: Jake Peavy

The offseason began doing some hunting with David Wells, a successful trip to Japan and then a wind down session in Mobile. Working to stay on top of his game, San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy, the ace of the staff and reigning ERA Champ, is back to work and will report to spring training in less than two weeks.

Unlike many players who immediately take a week or two off after their season is over, Jake Peavy went back to work. He had business to take care of across the globe. He was one of the players selected to play in Japan, as a representative of the Major League All-Stars team for their eight game series with Japan.

"For the first couple of weeks I was still running, lifting and throwing whereas a lot of guys were probably taking it easy – the Japan trip," Peavy explained. "We went over there and had a wonderful time. It was a good time to get out and see Japan and it was neat to be around some of the players that went with us."

Peavy threw five innings in game four en route to a 7-2 victory for the Major League team. He allowed only two runs on six hits, while walking none and whiffing five. He was the first MLB starter to log a win in the series and was the first pitcher to earn Most Important Player.

In his second outing, Peavy clinched the series by throwing six shutout innings, allowing two hits at the Tokyo Dome.

But for a 23 year old like Peavy, going to Japan was about so much more. The ability to work with legends and meet some of the younger stars in the league had its appeal and the sights of Japan weren't exactly a distraction.

"Spent some time with Roger Clemons and obviously for a young guy like myself, I looked up to Roger and it meant a lot," Peavy said. "It was fun to hang around some of the younger players in the game, around my age, Marcus Giles and Hank Blaylock. We had a lot of All-Stars and had a good time.

"They did a great job of allowing us, if we wanted to, to get out and see (Japan). There were a couple of tours. Probably about half the tours they had, I went on. I didn't really care to see Buddha, not to take anything away from anything over there, I just didn't care to see all the tourist attractions in Japan. I enjoyed the experience and interacting with them. I saw plenty. You walk into downtown Tokyo and see all you want to see."

He has been back in the United States for two months and spring training is right around the corner.

The realization this season is David Wells is gone and Jake Peavy has officially become the ace of the staff. While Woody Williams was added, Peavy is the future of the franchise, a tough position for a player who has seen action in three years at the Major League level and is still only 23.

"I have had pressure on myself since the day I started playing professional baseball," Peavy explains. "Me and Brian Lawrence always say pressure is for tires. I am going to put pressure on myself whether you say I am the ace or the number five guy. It makes no difference to me.

"The bottom line is all five of us are going to have to take the ball every fifth day and we are going to have to get it done as a team. The only thing I can control is what I do on my fifth day and I am going to put a lot of pressure on myself, as I have done in the past. I don't think there is any added pressure at all."

The next question is whether there is a void in the clubhouse in the leadership department.

Wells was never shy about taking the ball in the big game and his postseason experience was a valuable commodity in leading the Padres forward.

"Trevor Hoffman is by far our team leader," says Peavy. "When something needs to be done, it falls to Trevor to lead the way. Myself, Brian (Lawrence), Adam (Eaton), we are not the big vocal leaders. Having Woody Williams, a veteran guy, Mr. Consistent, I think he is going to be a real vocal part of our staff and a leader.

"Me and the other guys who are not as vocal, I try to lead on my fifth day and the boys get to see what I do and I think that is the same for Brian and Adam. We may not be the loudest guys in the clubhouse, rah-rah guys, but we try to lead by example on our fifth day."

A 15-6 season and an ERA Championship to go with it is a nice way to lead the team without saying a word. A healthy Peavy could push the envelope this year towards 20 wins and that may be the difference between a playoff berth and a spot in the has-beens rack.

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