Peavy plays relief role in All-Star Game

Peavy plays relief role in All-Star Game

DETROIT -- San Diego Padres right-hander Jake Peavy knows just one way to prepare for a game, and that's to sharpen his focus.

Peavy obliged a few interviews, but seemingly with each second leading to the 76th Major League Baseball All-Star Game he focused more and more as if he would be starting, even though he didn't know whether he'd even pitch.

It was an unfamiliar feeling, considering his last relief appearance in a regular game, and one of two he has made as a pro, came in the Arizona Rookie League in 1999, not long after graduation from St. Paul High School in Mobile, Ala.

"The way it works out is the way I'm going to do it," Peavy said. "If they call upon me, I'll do my best. If not, I'm going to enjoy the game. I've never done it in the Major Leagues, and it's been quite a while since I've pitched in relief -- so long ago I can't really remember."

Peavy got in a lot of All-Star sightseeing and a little bit of pitching for the National League in its 7-5 loss to the American League. Manager Tony La Russa used him in the bottom of the eighth for three batters. He gave up a leadoff double to Texas' Michael Young, worked Texas' Alfonso Soriano into an infield pop-up and fanned the Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko.

Then, Peavy was used like a reliever. La Russa removed him for Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero, who struck out Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez.

Peavy, of course, does his primary job quite well. He is 7-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 17 starts for the Padres, who lead the National League West by 5 1/2 games over Arizona and 7 1/2 games over Los Angeles.

But Peavy did OK at his other job.

He left with the AL's lead, then 7-3, no bigger. He said he didn't need the motivation of trying to grab home-field advantage in the World Series to do well in his first Midsummer Classic.

"There's definitely a pride factor, let's put it that way," Peavy said. "Whether you're pitching for home-field advantage or not, you want to win. That's the way I approach it."

All-Star Game 2005

Peavy's true attention is on a division that is just begging for someone to take command.

San Diego's lead is nice, but it's mainly due to a 22-6 record in May. At 43-36, the Padres were under .500 in April and June, and are 5-5 so far in July going into a four-game set at Arizona starting Thursday.

The fact Peavy was the Padres' only All-Star Game representative points to what could be the team's biggest problem -- injuries. Catcher Ramon Hernandez returned from a sprained left wrist, second baseman Mark Loretta (strained left thumb ligament) and first baseman Phil Nevin (strained left oblique) are due back soon and an injury to right-hander Adam Eaton (strained tendon in his middle finger) also has hurt the staff.

Peavy looks forward to having some of the Padres' other stars alongside him when the games truly count.

"We're a first-place team with one representative, but we had some other guys that would have been here if injuries hadn't happened," Peavy said. "It is what it is. I'm proud to represent."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.