TORONTO -- Long removed from the November phone call he thought was a prank, Mark Buehrle has found life is good with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The ability to adapt to new environment even after he was part of a life-altering trade should come as no surprise to White Sox fans or his old team. Buehrle admits he was jarred at first when he received the news he and four other teammates had been traded last November from the Miami Marlins to the Blue Jays as part of a 12-player trade. But the left-handed pitcher’s easy-going persona has since taken over and Buehrle said he has found a comfort zone within his new clubhouse.
“I obviously was thinking I was going to finish my career out (in Miami),” Buehrle said. “I was thinking it was April Fool’s joke. It didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Ever since, I’ve soaked it in with open arms. This organization is top (notch) from the way they treat people to the way they do stuff here. It’s a classy organization, so that part of it has been awesome.”
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A day after he beat his old team of 11 seasons, Buehrle admits the victory was a big boost because of the emotion attached to the game. Buehrle, who had a 10.24 ERA in his first two starts, limited the White Sox to two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
“It was big,” Buehrle said. “(Guys) were joking around and saying ‘It’s about time you threw well.’ Coming to a new team, you want to start off on a good note. But the first two outings were rough. I haven’t thrown well. … Facing the White Sox was a big deal and I was more nervous about that than I was pitching in a game. There was a little more emotion, nervousness there, but you throw that out the window and focus on regular game.”
Buerhle hasn’t worn a White Sox uniform for 18 months. Strange as Monday’s appearance was, he expects the return to U.S. Cellular Field in June to be more difficult.
“Walking into that stadium for 12 years, walking into the same spot and now I have to walk past that door to the other side,” Buehrle said. “It is weird, seeing those guys and going over to the clubhouse and say hi to them. I guess I would have been allowed there, but I would have felt uncomfortable going in there, which didn’t feel right.”
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Asked what he misses the most, Buehrle excluded no part of the Chicago experience.
“Everything,” Buehrle said. “That’s all I knew. Living there, Great city. Great fans. Great teammates. Organization. Even the security guards, clubhouse attendants, everybody. It’s not just the guys you played with. It’s everybody behind the scenes that I got to become friends with and hung out off the field and still text message half of them today. I made a lot of good friends. Lots of good memories all around.”