ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Jake Peavy always looks intense, always looking like he’s ready to take the mound.

But on Monday afternoon, Peavy sat before reporters and said he did not want to pitch — at least not so soon.

Peavy is set to pitch Tuesday in Game 4 of the American League division series. If Boston had completed a sweep of the Rays Monday, there would not have been a Game 4.

“Every part of me wants to compete and get out there and have a chance (Tuesday) night,” Peavy said before Monday’s game. “I want that opportunity. But I don’t want to play.

“I want our team to win (Monday’s) game as bad as anybody in the building.”

Peavy did not get his wish as the Rays won 5-4 with a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth.

But Peavy will get the next best thing: A chance to stand on the mound and face hitters from an opposing team in a crucial game. He will focus on every pitch, but also work quickly (thank you). He may appear to growl at times and he is known to talk to himself, delivering a verbal reprimand or two.

Peavy last pitched on Sept. 25 in Colorado. For a competitor like Peavy, that’s too long.

He took part in a simulated game last week and, of course, went all out.

“I took that about as serious as I could take it and felt like I got some good work in,” Peavy said. “You could throw all the bullpens in the world, but you have to simulate getting out there and going full speed.”

He has faced the Rays twice this year, once with the White Sox, once with Boston. He is 1-0, allowing six earned runs in 122/3 innings.

“They know what I’ll be trying to do and I’ll know what they’re trying to do,” Peavy said. “These games, it just comes down to executing and throwing the ball where it’s supposed to be thrown.”

Peavy, 32, came to the Red Sox in the July 30 three-team trade that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit. The veteran Peavy bolstered a rotation that was without Clay Buchholz at the time.

In 10 starts, Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA. It’s reasonable to say that Boston would not have attained the best record in the American League (and home-field advantage) without Peavy.

But as we say about so many of these Red Sox, you have to look beyond the numbers.

“Jake’s competitive nature, his attitude and his approach to the game — he’s an accountable guy,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “In addition to being a proven big league winner, he brings that same attitude that a lot of our guys share.”

Peavy won the 2007 Cy Young Award when he was with the Padres. He is a three-time All-Star, twice with San Diego, once with the Chicago White Sox.

When Peavy came to Boston, he joined a team that bonded well from spring training.

How would a new guy fit into the mix?

“This is my 12th season in the major leagues,” Peavy said. “I’ve had some incredible experiences. I couldn’t ever think of feeling any more like a family, or like I belonged, in San Diego.

“Chicago had some great teams, great teammates, coaching staff, and great memories.

“But the day I walked in this clubhouse I felt like I was home. I felt like this is where I was meant to be.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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