He's stood on the mound at U.S. Cellular Field hundreds of times before, but when the Blue Jays face the White Sox on Saturday, Mark Buehrle will make his first start at his old stomping grounds as a member of the opposition.
"I'm sure it'll be different," said Buehrle, who suited up for a total of 390 games with the White Sox over 12 seasons. "I'm going to try not to make it too different for us, go out there and treat it as every other game. But I'm sure there's going to be some emotions."
It will be the veteran left-hander's 191st career start at the South Side ballpark, which he called home from 2000 until 2012. His all-time record at U.S. Cellular stands at 90-54 with a 3.71 ERA and includes some memorable moments for the 35-year-old, who tossed a no-hitter there in 2007 and a perfect game in 2009.
Buehrle (11-8) said a lot has changed since he was a spry 20-something making a path for himself in the Major Leagues.
"Ten pounds heavier. Throw slower. I'm not as agile on the mound as I used to be," he said. "My body hurts. But I'm throwing the exact same pitches."
And though he's in his third season away from his former team, Buehrle readily admits a part of him wishes he'd been able to remain a White Sox pitcher. But the club had other plans and the veteran southpaw hit the free-agent market when his contract expired after the 2011 season.
"I'm not bitter. I would have loved to spend my whole career here," he said. "I'd still be here till this day, but that's part of the game."
All sentimentality aside, Buehrle is trying to remain focused on the task at hand -- getting himself and the Blue Jays back on track after the club has lost four straight. Buehrle has been uncharacteristically shaky of late, pitching no more than four innings in three of his last four starts.
He'll be up against a familiar face in John Danks. Danks (9-8) and Buehrle played together for five seasons in Chicago and remain close friends. Danks said he'll put that aside when he takes the mound for the middle contest of the three-game set.
"Sure, he is one of my favorites." Danks said. "That doesn't stop me from wanting to beat him tomorrow."
The 29-year-old left-hander said he expects his old teammate to get a warm reception when he takes the hill.
"Why wouldn't he? Of course he would," Danks said. "If they don't, we ain't got our real fans here. Of course he would. I would be blown away if he didn't."
Blue Jays: Encarnacion hitless in return
Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup on Friday in the series opener, going 0-for-4 at the plate. He was activated from the 15-day disabled listed prior to the game after missing time since early July with a strained right quadriceps.
Encarnacion combined to hit 3-for-12 with a grand slam in his rehab assignment for Class A Dunedin and Triple-A Buffalo. His final game came at first base, but he's expected to start his first couple of games with Toronto at designated hitter.
Outfielder Anthony Gose was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Encarnacion on the 25-man roster.
White Sox: Garcia could return this weekend
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Friday's start of a six-game homestand that Avisail Garcia could return to the club as soon as Saturday.
Garcia has been out of action since April 9, when he tore the labrum and sustained an avulsion fracture of his left shoulder while diving for a fly ball in Colorado. The right fielder had 50 at-bats during his injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, and Ventura said in San Francisco that Garcia would be evaluated around that 50 at-bat mark.
"He's playing enough that I think he's getting closer to that," said Ventura of Garcia, who had Friday off for Charlotte. "In Spring Training, you'd probably have around 55-to-60 at-bats that you would feel comfortable with him, so he is getting closer. I know he's been playing a lot in the outfield, so that's good news."
• Blue Jays top prospect Daniel Norris struck out 13 over 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. He improved to 2-0 in two starts and has allowed one run in 11 2/3 innings since being promoted to the Bisons.
• Chris Sale leads the American League in winning percentage (.833) and ranks second in ERA (2.01) and WHIP (0.88).
• Jose Abreu hasn't homered since July 29, but remains tied for Major League lead with 31.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.