Buehrle surprised by criticism
Rough debut has some questioning offseason work
CHICAGO -- Call Mark Buehrle a creature of offseason habit, and stellar in-season results over the past eight years have all but proven the left-hander shouldn't have to make many changes to his routine.
During this time frame, Buehrle has the most quality starts and innings pitched among all Major League pitchers, stands tied for third in victories and ranks fourth in games started. As the old saying goes, if it's not broken, don't fix it.
Manager Ozzie Guillen might not quite agree with his easy-going ace. With Buehrle battling through normal Spring Training shoulder stiffness during this past March along with turning 30 at the end of March and having amassed 1,796 1/3 innings since 2001, Guillen pointedly commented on Sunday that Buehrle needs to do a little more offseason throwing work.
When questioned about the matter on Wednesday, Buehrle begrudgingly agreed with the need for change but didn't indicate such a change would be drastic.
"I'll listen to what they have to say and do what they want me to do, but I don't think I'm going to go home and play catch for two extra months," Buehrle said. "That's too much. I look at offseason as resting for the season.
"They have talked to me and said I probably need to do more, but like I said, I've done the same thing for eight to 10 years and never have been on the disabled list or missed a start. At the same time, I'm getting older.
"I'm throwing so many innings that I might need to do more," Buehrle said. "I have to do stuff to maintain my body, instead of just coming in and picking up a ball every five days."
Buehrle missed two starts this spring to return home to Missouri for the birth of his daughter, and then was skipped late in Cactus League action in order to monitor his innings and keep him fresh for the entire season. It's a plan that worked to perfection in 2008.
One school of thought involving Buehrle's erratic five-inning start on Opening Day was that he wasn't quite ready for the season because of the abbreviated Spring Training. Buehrle's analysis was that he was a little too amped up and overthrowing.
In trying to get the ball inside on right-handed hitters, for example, he was throwing too hard and leaving his pitches up. Guillen agreed with Buehrle but certainly didn't seem worried.
"He's coming around," Guillen said. "The bad thing about the game [Tuesday] was everything was up. Maybe because he was excited, maybe he got pumped up, maybe he had so many games off he thought he was Randy Johnson, and he forgot who he is.
"A lot of things can go through his mind, but I don't worry about him. As long as he's healthy, I know we're going to have good Buehrle all summer."
And Guillen's suggestion for more offseason throwing from Buehrle also is directed at maintaining the health and longevity for one of his favorite players. Buehrle gets the concept but doesn't understand the sudden uproar, albeit minor.
"I don't know why this is being brought up about my whole offseason routine," Buehrle said. "I've done it for 10 years and it never got brought up. All of the sudden it is. It's kind of news to me.
"That's what I've always done. I know that the older you get, the more you have to do to get ready, but I don't think throwing in the offseason has anything to do with wins. I don't want to throw 200 innings during the season and then play catch all offseason. It's time to rest."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.