Jake Peavy served as a mentor to Chris Sale during his time in Chicago and still maintains a friendship with his former teammate. That said, Peavy feels pretty good about the lefty the Red Sox will throw against Sale on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
"I said, 'I know you wanted an Old Man Peavy, but you're going to get our lefty Thursday night,'" Peavy said. "I said, '[If] You're going to be the best left-hander, you've got to surpass this guy that we're throwing at you.' … Two pretty good left-handers going at you Thursday night."
That's an understatement. Sale, who finished sixth and fifth in American League Cy Young Award voting the past two seasons, his first two as a starter, will take on Red Sox ace and two-time All Star and World Series champion Jon Lester. And Sale didn't take any offense to Peavy's assessment, saying it was "spot on."
"He's always focused," Sale said of Lester. "You can tell he's very focused on what he's doing. He puts a lot of emphasis on what he does, and that's why he is who he is and he's done what he's done for so many years. He's been fun to watch -- hopefully not too fun to watch tomorrow."
There's obvious hype surrounding this matchup, which Sale downplayed. He said he tries not to focus on who he's opposing on the mound to avoid overthrowing and to maintain concentration on the hitters he'll be facing. Nonetheless, Sale said he always looked up to Lester, and he went to Fenway Park when Lester picked up a win in Boston when Sale was in the Cape Cod League.
Lester reciprocated some kind words to 25-year-old opponent, saying that Sale has lived up to the hype and that he's looking forward to their first head-to-head matchup.
"Yeah, it's cool. Matching up against CC [Sabathia] and [Justin] Verlander in the past, you feel like you've got to step your game up," Lester said. "You know that they're going to pitch well and there probably won't be a lot of runs scored. Just try to match them and put up zeros.
"I love it. I think it's great. It's a lot of fun to be able to go toe to toe with all these guys. I think it's what baseball is all about."
White Sox: Konerko to make second start Thursday
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said captain Paul Konerko will start against Lester tomorrow, just his second of the season. Such was the original plan for Konerko, who continues adjusting to his new part-time role and will likely only make starts against lefties or in case of injuries.
Konerko, who is 1-for-5 in pinch-hitting opportunities this season, was on deck to hit for Connor Gillaspie in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game before the White Sox won on a walk-off error.
"I think he's done all right. It is an adjustment," Ventura said. "He's kind of playing along with the game trying to figure out when it's going to be the spot when you're going to ask him to go in. … He knows the situations he'll be in there and he was prepared for them and he was ready for that at-bat before the error happened."
Red Sox: Uehara close to returning
For the first time in more than a week, Koji Uehara could see action in Thursday night's finale against the White Sox. The dominant closer last pitched on April 9, saving a game against the Rangers.
Prior to Friday's game at Yankee Stadium, Uehara experienced stiffness in his right shoulder. He underwent an MRI in Boston on Monday that revealed no structural damage. He threw as 34-pitch bullpen session before Wednesday's game.
"Good work today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Normal long toss, flat-ground. A 34-pitch [bullpen session]. He felt good coming out of it physically, and with each throwing session, he gains confidence with how he feels physically, so we would expect him to be available tomorrow night."
• Of the Red Sox's nine losses this season, four have been decided by one run, which matches the Royals for most one-run losses among AL teams.
• Boston starters are tied for the Major League lead for quality starts with 11. Lester and Peavy both have three quality starts, which is also tied for the big league lead.
• Gordon Beckham, who is on a rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham, started both games of a doubleheader at designated hitter on Tuesday and again on Wednesday night.
• White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn is fourth in the AL in on-base percentage (.458) and is sixth in OPS (1.005) while hitting .263 with three home runs and eight RBI.
"He worked hard in Spring Training and I think that the shift thing messes with some guys, but right now he's seeing it good, he's pulling balls, hitting the other way, taking walks," Ventura said. "All that's good to see."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.