Text me: Buehrle to start nightcap
Saturday morning message leads to doubleheader nod
CHICAGO -- The text message from Mark Buehrle made its way to Ozzie Guillen some time early on Saturday morning, with a request to pitch the night portion of Saturday's split doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field.
Guillen checked out the wording of the message and decided it was not exactly what he wanted to see.
"He said, 'I'm ready to go. I want to make sure you don't overuse the bullpen,'" said Guillen, speaking to the media prior to Saturday's first game. "That's not his job. That's my job. That's why when he got here for the first time, I said, 'No. Just worry about you. Don't worry about my bullpen. I'll take care of that.'"
Apparently, Buehrle has a second career as a lawyer awaiting him, as he eventually was able to convince Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper to change their minds. So, Buehrle will follow John Danks to the mound against the Orioles, with Nick Masset moving from spot starter back to long relief.
With Masset starting the nightcap, he wasn't originally expected to be at U.S. Cellular until later in the afternoon. But after the decision was made to go with Buehrle, the White Sox called Masset and asked him to move up the arrival time.
"I told him no hurry because it's our fault," said Guillen of Masset. "Make sure you are here before Game 1.
"We have a discussion. We have a meeting," added Guillen of the decision process employed to start Buehrle. "I talked to him. I talked to the medical [staff]. I talked to everyone. I don't say protecting myself, but protecting him to make sure we make the right decision. We talked for about a half-hour about the situation and we all agreed he would be fine."
This decision could have far-reaching ramifications in regard to Wednesday afternoon's starter at the Metrodome. Jose Contreras pitches Sunday, with Javier Vazquez now working Monday's series finale against Baltimore and Gavin Floyd beginning the road trip on Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
Both Danks and Buehrle would be coming back on three days' rest for Wednesday, meaning Masset once again could be in line for a spot start, and Buehrle could get an extra day of rest and pitch on Friday in Toronto. Buehrle's case to pitch Saturday was helped by the fact that he threw a mere six pitches to complete the first inning before the rains came on Friday night, five of which were for strikes, and threw just another 20 pitches warming up.
In Buehrle's estimation, he could have come back and pitched on Friday night if the game restarted at 10 p.m. CT, when a window of opportunity to play was expected.
"It's just like playing catch, I mean, doing some long toss then pitching," Buehrle said. "There's no reason to waste the bullpen when I feel good.
"If I was hurting or didn't want to pitch today, I wouldn't do this. But I told them I feel fine, so let me out there."
Buehrle had two starts skipped during Spring Training and then was pushed back again when the rotation was slightly realigned following an April 10 weather-related cancellation with the Twins. Those moves gave people pause for thought that Buehrle might be operating at less than 100 percent.
His desire to come back and pitch from Friday to Saturday, with just a good night's sleep behind him, should put to rest any of those rumors.
"People think Buehrle is hurt," Guillen said. "I don't know how people come up with that. Just because you have bad outings doesn't mean you are hurt.
"He didn't just come here and say, 'I'm ready to pitch, I want to pitch.' He's my ace. He's going to be here for a little while, and I'm not going to overuse him. I talked to [general manager] Kenny [Williams], I talked to Coop, I talked to the doctors and [White Sox athletic trainer] Hermie [Schneider]. I talked to him.
"Everyone agreed that if he wants to pitch," Guillen added, "put him out there on the mound."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.