Francona inquires about Buehrle
Lefty expected to be named AL starter on Monday
CHICAGO -- The news delivered by manager Ozzie Guillen on Sunday morning regarding Mark Buehrle being selected as the American League's starting pitcher for Tuesday 76th All-Star Game in Detroit certainly seemed to make sense.Buehrle has been one of the most consistent hurlers in all of baseball during the 2005 campaign and ranks in the top five in no less than 12 American League statistical pitching categories. But according to Major League Baseball and Buehrle himself, the information provided by Guillen is anything but official. Buehrle talked with the media following Guillen's briefing, but only mentioned that American League manager Terry Francona had called Sunday morning to ensure his availability for Tuesday. "They just wanted to know since I threw [Saturday] and threw a lot of pitches, if I could pitch an inning or two in the All-Star Game," said Buehrle, who threw 112 pitches over seven innings during Saturday's loss. "I told him that if he wanted me to start or close, I didn't care. I could throw two innings," Buehrle added with a smile. "I told [Francona] I bounce back pretty quickly. There are days I come in on Day 1 or Day 2 and I feel like I can pitch. I'm not worried about being sore." Since last Sunday, when both Buehrle and Jon Garland, his close friend and teammate, were named as American League All-Stars, the White Sox duo has been playing down the significance of starting. Sure, it would earn either hurler a $10,000 bonus, and it would be an even greater honor than simply making the team. Their line of thinking, though, was that Toronto's Roy Halladay eventually would get the nod. It was the same thought process followed by Francona, until Halladay suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left leg after being struck by a Kevin Mench line drive Friday night. If Guillen had his preference, neither Buehrle nor Garland would ever leave the bullpen at Comerica Park. But he also has trust in Francona, in terms of using the pitchers correctly, as well as his hurlers, in terms of putting the team first even in their moment of individual glory. "I'm a little concerned because this kid just threw on Saturday, and all of a sudden, he has to throw Tuesday," said Guillen, who received his news about Buehrle second-hand, after another official in the organization received an e-mail. "And it's going to come on three days' rest." Buehrle would have thrown a bullpen session on Monday, in which the pitch count ranges from 50 to 70, so he will basically skip that part of the program and be ready Tuesday. Guillen also said that Garland could move up to pitch Saturday against Jake Westbrook in Cleveland and Buehrle would work on Sunday against Scott Elarton, if the left-hander needs a little more rest. Much to Guillen's chagrin, Buehrle said that he could work three innings Tuesday if necessary. He just has no concrete confirmation as to whether it will come in a starting or relief role. "I have no idea. The official announcement comes out [Monday]," Buehrle said. "Like I said, [Francona] just wanted to see if I could pitch. Maybe it was in consideration for me to start, or he wanted to find out if I could throw one inning and he was setting up his pitching. "It's an honor to go to the All-Star Game. It would be a huge honor to start the All-Star Game, but I'm not taking it for granted right now." Where Garland and Buehrle are concerned, it really comes down to a coin flip as to which pitcher should get the start. Garland has 13 victories; Buehrle has 10. Garland has an ERA of 3.38, while Buehrle checks in at 2.58. The losses to Oakland on Friday and Saturday were the first time the pair lost back-to-back starts during the first half of 2005. But if Guillen's news turns out be reality come Monday, Garland is more than happy for his friend to be honored as one of the game's most consistent pitchers. "I'm proud of him. He deserves it," said Garland of Buehrle. "He's gone out and thrown great in the first half. He's [darn] near given us a chance every time he's gone out there. I think he should have more wins than me with the way he's pitched, but that's the way things work out. "What the media portrays as a dominant pitcher, neither him nor myself fit in that category. We don't go out cruising through games, striking guys out left and right. It just doesn't happen. What he's done with his career, you tip your cap to it. He's done it, under the radar a little bit, and continues to do it." First baseman Paul Konerko and outfielder Scott Podsednik, selected by the fans as the American League's representative in the Ameriquest Final Vote competition, will join Garland and Buehrle on the All-Star roster. Both of them simply plan on enjoying the experience and aren't worried about starting or at-bat totals.
|Mark Buehrle / P|
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.