Buehrle to make two starts before break
Rotation switch might leave left-hander out of All-Star Game
KANSAS CITY -- A slight rotation alteration made by the White Sox will give staff ace Mark Buehrle an extra start in the upcoming final week before the All-Star break.
That change also could hamper Buehrle's chances to be selected for the 2009 All-Star Game to be played in St. Louis, just a short trip from Buehrle's hometown of St. Charles, Missouri.
Buehrle originally was scheduled to start Wednesday at home against the Indians, but instead will work Tuesday's series opener on regular rest and then pitch Sunday in the Metrodome to close out the first half. Buehrle has an impressive 23-13 career record against the Twins, including a 10-7 mark at the Twins' home ballpark.
But if Buehrle works next Sunday, then the question arises as to whether Buehrle would be available for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper took the protective mode where Buehrle's potential work in St. Louis was concerned.
"I wouldn't want to do that," Cooper said. "Throwing an inning or two on that day, it wouldn't be what I would have on his prescription. We need him and everybody else to accomplish what we want to do in the second half."
Tuesday would mark Buehrle's side day after Sunday's start in Minnesota. But Cooper pointed out that Buehrle doesn't throw true side sessions in between starts as a way of taking care of an arm that has logged a great deal of innings during the course of his highly successful career.
Even with that scaled back side work factored in, Buehrle still believes he could pitch at the All-Star Game if selected.
"We will have to do throwing on those four days off anyway, and that would be it," Buehrle said. "I can give them a batter or an inning, if needed. I don't think it would matter, but it's out of my hands.
"I've thrown a side [session] in between every start except one," said Buehrle of his side work. "But it's not your typical side. The catcher gets down and it's flat work, just really working on everything, not a full-on bullpen -- nothing like most guys throw."
Jose Contreras will flip-flop with Buehrle on Wednesday, and he will be followed Thursday by Clayton Richard, who will come back on three days' rest to face Cleveland. This change leaves John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Buehrle set up to pitch against the Twins.
Of course, all of the talk surrounding Buehrle and the All-Star Game is pure speculation. The left-hander does rank in the Top 10 of six separate statistical categories, including sitting sixth with a 3.09 ERA. Buehrle could face trouble getting picked if it comes down to purely a call made by Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, as the AL All-Star manager might want a pitcher who hadn't gone on Sunday.
If Buehrle is voted in by his peers, though, he's more than ready to make his fourth career All-Star appearance.
"First and foremost, it's about trying to win here," Buehrle said. "My main goal is to get 200 innings and help this team win. Then anything else that happens, it's an honor and a plus."
"It would be a great honor and he certainly deserves it," Cooper said. "If he got it, we would deal with it. Anybody else that happens to, who might get it, we would deal with it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.