02/17/11 6:23 PM EST
Buehrle moves on from Vick controversy
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
The White Sox ace and avid dog rights supporter answered just a few questions on the Vick topic Thursday when the team's pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training. He then expressed a firm desire to treat this topic as past history.
"We have to concentrate on baseball and can't bring outside distractions in," Buehrle said. "We have to concentrate on what we have in here and try to go for our goal of going to the World Series and winning it.
"I said it. It's an old story," said Buehrle, speaking directly on his Vick statement. "Again, we are not bringing drama inside and past history stuff. So, I said it, meant it. It's over and we'll move on."
As an avid hunter, Buehrle received some criticism for his seemingly contradictory stance on animals, but the left-hander countered by pointing out that hunting is a legal sport -- and in his case, a family tradition -- and that dog fighting has never been a legal sport. The White Sox organization supports Buehrle's passion, but didn't take his viewpoint any deeper.
"I'm putting that in the 'no drama for Kenny' zone," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said of Buehrle's comments. "It is my business in the sense that he is a Chicago White Sox player, but it was the offseason and he's his own man.
"He's got some very strong opinions about animal rights, and I support those. I wish that it would have been handled differently, but it wasn't and that's as much as I'm going to say on it."
For starters, Sale to pitch in relief
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for the White Sox to end what little suspense there was dealing with Chris Sale's immediate pitching future.
"Chris Sale is going to be in the bullpen," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams, addressing the media after pitchers and catchers held their first official workout on Thursday.
The 22-year-old rookie had been in discussions as a possible temporary replacement for Jake Peavy in the fifth starter's spot, assuming Peavy's road to full recovery from season-ending surgery to repair a torn latissimus dorsi muscle in his right shoulder doesn't lead him to Opening Day. But during organization meetings involving the White Sox front office and coaching staff held Thursday morning, it was decided the White Sox were best armed with Sale as a full-time reliever on the heels of his stellar 1.93 ERA posted out of the bullpen in 2010.
That decision won't alter the White Sox decision to use Sale as a starter in Cactus League action, a plan Williams believes will be best-served for the southpaw's overall development.
"This is very important because I had to explain this to my coaching staff as well," Williams said. "The reason I had Chris Sale prepare as a starter is because that's what he has done his whole life.
"So if you now tell him to prepare differently, might you not see the guy you last saw in September? We want him to prepare as he did so we can expect the same guy to show up. That means using all of his pitches and building him up as a starter.
"He has shown he can transfer that to a relief role," Williams said. "Had we said he's going to be a reliever from Day 1, might he prepare as a reliever and not build his arm up and legs up? We want him to be the best guy we just saw."
Manager Ozzie Guillen didn't specify if Sale would become the White Sox closer or be used in a setup role. For Williams, late-inning relief is all about getting important outs. So, if Matt Thornton is chosen as the closer but is needed in the eighth, then the roles will have to be adjusted.
"It's a great scenario if Matt Thornton is the guy because of what he has been doing for the White Sox," Guillen said. "Sale has great stuff to be the closer. A couple of guys out there have closed before. Right now, it's too early for me to say whether this guy is going to be the closer or not."
White Sox, D-backs to play Tucson charity game
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tucson will not be without Major League Spring Training action in 2011, as the White Sox and D-backs officially will play a contest on March 7 at 1:05 p.m. MT. The game will take place at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, formerly known as Tucson Electric Park, with proceeds going to the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund.
Christina-Taylor Green was tragically killed on Jan. 8 during a shooting spree aimed at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The 9-year-old Christina's grandfather is Dallas Green, currently with the Phillies and the one-time Cubs general manager, and her father is John Green, who is a scout for the Dodgers.
Pima County, the Tucson Padres, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks have committed the charity game proceeds to the memorial fund in remembrance of Christina-Taylor Green.White Sox general manager Ken Williams wishes there was no need for this special contest, meaning the senseless and unexplainable incident never would have taken place.
"And it's tragic," Williams said. "I just don't understand why we can't get some sort of regulation on gun control laws in this country and get a handle on mental health. Get a better hold on what that is all about and how we can effectively help people who aren't in position to help themselves sometimes."
Third to first
Ozzie Guillen came up with his first classic spring quote when asked about the potential replacement starter candidates for Jake Peavy. "Right now, I don't know," Guillen said. "We have a couple names, but I forgot the names." Phil Humber, Lucas Harrell, Charlie Leesman and Jeff Gray figure to be those names eluding Guillen. ... Juan Pierre and Brent Lillibridge joined Gordon Beckham as White Sox position players reporting five days early to camp. ... Mark Buehrle expressed a desire to continue playing past 2011, when his four-year, $56-million contract with the White Sox expires, but he clearly won't force the issue. "I'm open for whatever if there's an opportunity," Buehrle said. "I don't think I'm going to play somewhere where I'm not comfortable or the family is not comfortable, if the White Sox don't want me back. If it comes to an end, it comes to an end."