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Buehrle elaborates on comments
06/18/2005 1:59 AM ET
CHICAGO -- The postgame media session for Mark Buehrle had lasted about seven minutes when one of the members of the White Sox media relations' staff asked the final question.

"Are there any more questions about the game for Mark?" he asked.

"By the way, we won tonight, too," added Buehrle with a laugh.

Buehrle had just finished off a nine-inning gem against the undermanned Dodgers, winning for the seventh straight time, but most of the questions dealt with the left-hander's comments Thursday evening on a local Chicago sports radio station. During a casual interview that didn't totally center on baseball, Buehrle intimated that one of the current Cubs pitchers cheated by possibly using an illegal substance.

He talked about guys licking their fingers, a legal move, but then not really wiping it on their pants when they act as they do. When asked to name a player or two in question, Buehrle chose to take a very vague route to the subject.

"I can't get myself in trouble because he's on the North Side," Buehrle said during the interview. "I don't know personally, but I'm just saying from years of experience that he's had success that he very well may be using something."

The "years of experience" and "North Side" reference led most observers to intimate that Buehrle was talking about Greg Maddux, the Cubs' certain Hall-of-Famer and winner of 310 games. When asked about the comments in New York, Maddux casually denied any wrongdoing and then wondered aloud, 'Who is Mark Buehrle?'

Buehrle took umbrage at the media assumption that he was talking about Maddux, although never flat-out denying that he wasn't. The usually easy-going hurler seemed a bit charged-up due to the entire uproar stemming from his statements.

"I want to know how what I said was wrong, first of all," Buehrle said. "I don't know why it's such a big deal. I said, personally, I don't know if it's true or not. I don't know any of those guys over there.

"Maddux's name keeps getting thrown out there. I have nothing against Maddux, and I don't know him. I don't know where Maddux's name got brought up. Whoever brought that up, I want to know why.

"I don't want him saying that I'm a bad guy and I'm talking behind his back," Buehrle added. "He's the only Cubs pitcher over there?"

Buehrle, who was informed of Maddux's comments and comments made by other Cubs pitchers, pointed out that hurlers such as Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior also have been pitching for 'years.' He also was basing his statement on rumors heard around the league.

In a refreshing change of pace, Buehrle admitted that he had cheated before when questioned directly. Of course, it was something minor, at the Minor League level, when he might have grabbed a bat with pine tar on it before going to the mound and then not cleaning off his hands.

Hitters can use pine tar, Buehrle reasoned, so why can't pitchers.

"I know it's illegal, but it's a good argument, ain't it?" said Buehrle with a smile.

With the recent 10-day suspension of Angels pitcher Brendan Donnelly for having pine tar in his glove, Buehrle's off-the-cuff remarks took on a rather large life of their own. Jon Garland, Buehrle's close friend and the top winner in the American League at 11, at first declined comment on the subject but added that a competitive edge should not be gained through cheating.

Garland also mentioned that an opposing hitter has never asked to have him checked on the mound.

First baseman Paul Konerko, one of the team's voices of reason, pointed out that the umpires check the baseball so frequently, even on pitches in the dirt or balls cued off the end of the bat, that it would be very tough to sneak a foreign substance on the baseball. Hitters joke about it, according to Konerko, but it's just an excuse for not making contact.

But manager Ozzie Guillen had the most interesting take, as usual. He doesn't condone cheating of any sort, but it's only cheating if you get caught.

"Everyone cheats," said Guillen after getting a good laugh upon hearing Buehrle's radio analysis. "If you don't get caught, you are a smart player. If you get caught, you are cheating. It has been part of the game for a long time."

Guillen would have to be "200 percent sure" in order to have an opposing pitcher checked, not wanting to put himself "in the idiot, arrogant manager position." He would make the move, though, to protect his team.

The actual act of cheating was far more palatable to Guillen than putting anything into a player's body, such as steroids. He even joked that nobody knew for certain that Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio didn't used corked bats because nobody checked back in their time. As for his own players cheating, Guillen categorically stated that he was all about the victories.

"If they win games, I will help them cheat," said Guillen with a laugh.

"Guys can used cork bats and if they don't break bats, you never know," Buehrle added. "If they want to check pitchers and have the umpire check every guy after every inning, I'll be happy to drop my drawers and they can check whatever they want on me. I don't care."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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