SF's Peavy left part of his heart in Boston

SF's Peavy left part of his heart in Boston

BOSTON -- Of the four cities on Jake Peavy's Major League resume, he has experienced the most while playing the least in Boston.

Peavy's 2013-14 tenure with the Red Sox transcended his 5-10 record and 4.48 ERA in the 30 starts he made for the club. He joined the team in a Trade Deadline deal, 3 1/2 months after the shocking bombings occurred at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox were an integral part of the "Boston Strong" movement that rallied the city following the tragedy, and the fiery Peavy immediately got caught up in the swirl of emotions, on and off the field.

"Look," Peavy said the other day as he recalled those times. He extended his left arm. Its hair was standing on end. "I'm getting chills speaking about it," he said.

As meaningful as that period became in Peavy's life, his immediate concern as he returns to Fenway Park lies elsewhere. Peavy's now a Giant, and San Francisco needs a victory after being swept in three games at San Diego over the weekend.

San Francisco's scheduled starter for Tuesday's series opener, Peavy will strive to subdue the Red Sox, who entered Monday's scheduled off-day leading the Majors in hitting (.289), runs (501), on-base percentage (.357) and slugging percentage (.471).

"Getting ready for those guys, you see the numbers, where they rank offensively throughout the league," Peavy said. "I know what kind of challenge lies ahead. That being said, I look forward to it. And, look, I love Fenway. I love the town of Boston. It was a very, very special time in my life."

Peavy was very, very sincere in saying this. While maintaining a front-row seat for a city's rejuvenation, he played for a ballclub that surged to the World Series title. The combination of the Boston Strong movement and the Red Sox's postseason push stirred Peavy.

"A lot of people made the comment, 'Oh man, you guys really put the city on your back,'" he said. "That's the complete opposite of what happened. We got on the city's back. The energy and commitment to taking care of each other. ... There was just truly something a little bit bigger than all of us involved in that Boston Strong 2013 run."

Asked to name his best friends among the Red Sox, Peavy listed about half of the roster. But the first players he mentioned were fellow starters Jon Lester and John Lackey, along with catcher David Ross. Peavy proceeded to mention Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Clay Buchholz, Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino.

Most or all of them, Peavy said, habitually gathered at a suite at a downtown hotel after games to analyze that night's outcome -- just as previous eras of ballplayers did all the time.

"There was a chemistry, a camaraderie there," Peavy said.

Ortiz honored by Giants

Peavy reserved special mention for David Ortiz, Boston's wondrous designated hitter who is committed to retiring after this season.

"I want to give him four [intentional balls] and send him to first," Peavy said. "He's got some guys around him this year, and he talks about his feet hurting. I want to make him go to first and see if he can run the bases. He's certainly not swinging the bat like a guy who's retiring. He's swinging it like the All-Star he's always been. David's as big-time of a player as any I've ever played with. He has such a unique, larger-than-life personality. His preparation on a daily basis just sets him apart. There are just certain guys who are cut out for big moments. No. 34 is one of them."

Red Sox management dismantled that World Series-winning team a year later. Peavy was part of the overhaul, joining San Francisco in another Trade Deadline deal. It took only a few games at AT&T Park for him to be reminded of what he just left.

"[Given] the energy and passion that both fan bases have, I've played for the best two fan bases in baseball, period," Peavy said.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.