Garfien: Buehrle to the Cubs? No chance

563706.jpg

Garfien: Buehrle to the Cubs? No chance

Over the last couple days you may have heard rumblings in the news that a certain baseball team in Chicago not called the White Sox has expressed interest in signing free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle. Im told the thought of the South Side legend calling the North Side home has produced such side effects as nausea, headaches, and especially -- heartburn.

As I sit here today, I cannot promise you that Mark will return to the White Sox. There are many teams knocking on the door, and reportedly even the team that plays at Wrigley Field. However, there is one thing I can assure you:

Mark Buehrle will not sign with the Cubs.

Rest easy, White Sox fans. It wont happen.

How do I know?

Lets start with what we know about Mark as a person. Growing up in a close-knit family in St. Charles, Missouri, the values that were instilled in him back then are still very much apart of his life. Ever hear the phrase Give me a child until he is seven and Ill give you the man?

Thats Mark.

He was born into a world that made him a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, and to a large degree, he remains that to this very day. The White Sox are number one in his life, the Cardinals are number two.

What do both teams have in common? A deep and utter dislike for the Cubs. Those feelings dont go away in a day or even three decades.

Mark also knows who he is. His life has become deeply rooted, not only in White Sox lore, but in the hearts and minds of the people who come to watch him play. He knows it, and when he takes the mound at U.S. Cellular Field, he feels it. Although he wasnt raised on the South Side, when he looks into the crowd, he doesnt just see White Sox fans, he sees a bit of himself. Meat and potato baseball fans. Thats one of the reasons hes become such an icon.

So would Buehrle, who has made 85 million in his baseball career -- millions more than he ever dreamed of -- jump ship to the other side of town, turning his backs on the only team hes ever played for, the only major league fans who have ever cheered for him, just so he could chase a few extra bucks?

No way.

These are just my words. Want to hear some from Mark?

Buehrle has declined to be interviewed until he signs with the lucky team. But an interview I did with him last February during spring training revealed what he was thinking then, and is very likely thinking now. Mark has lived by the same principles his entire life. I doubt they have changed in the last nine months.

In the conversation, he first explained that if the White Sox didnt re-sign him there would be a small list of teams he would play for.

Obviously St. Louis would be there, Buehrle said. Im not going to throw teams out to you because obviously getting to the end of your career youre going to want to go to a team thats going to win or has a chance to win. Youre not going to go to a team thats obviously rebuilding.

After winning 71 games and finishing 25 games out of first place, this would seemingly take the Cubs out of contention. One could argue that the White Sox situation isnt much better, but thats a subject for another column, one I would disagree with -- depending on the moves Kenny Williams makes this off-season. Its too early to go down that road.

Right now, I cant pinpoint how many teams, Buerhle continued. I know there are teams in my head I will not go to no matter how much money or what the situation is. If the White Sox dont want to sign me back after this year and some team that Im not a fan of, or I dont want to go play for, or if its just too far from home, Im not going to go play just to make money.

So I asked him. What about the Cubs?

Im not saying any names, any cities, any towns, but I have a few teams that are on my mind I would play for, and there are a few teams I wouldnt play for.

I told Mark that if he went to the Cubs Id be concerned about the mental well-being of many White Sox fans.

I could see that, he replied. I dont know if I can get up for that many day games. Im not a morning person. Spring training is about it, and then I need some sleep.

Mark is a smart person and also a smart business man. There would be no benefit in saying directly that he wouldnt play for the Cubs. But read between the lines. Its all there.

Cubs President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are reportedly pursuing Buehrle, which is what any smart baseball executive would and should do. On paper, hes a logical fit for the Cubs. Plus, they both have experience seeing one of their best players leave and play for their biggest rival. In 2006, Johnny Damon departed the Red Sox and signed with the hated Yankees. Wade Boggs did the same thing. Theyre probably thinking, Why not Buehrle?

But thats Boston and New York. This is Chicago. Its different here. Its the same reason Kerry Wood chose not to sign with the White Sox last winter. He wouldnt do it.

For those of us who are from here, its all quite simple.

The Sox are the Sox.
The Cubs are the Cubs.
We are who we are. Its in our blood.
The Sox are in Buehrles blood.

Being traded across town is one thing. Its happened before. Even to Ron Santo. But choosing to jump ship and actually sign with the enemy, thats completely another.

Some athletes chase money, some chase fame, some both.
Buehrle? He stands for much more than that.

Will he sign with the Cubs?

No offense to my friends and colleagues who are Cubs fans, but the answer is an easy one.

It can be summed up in a single word.

Never.

White Sox: Tim Anderson adjusting to 'grind' of first MLB season

White Sox: Tim Anderson adjusting to 'grind' of first MLB season

CLEVELAND -- He’s played far more than ever before this season, so it’s no surprise that Tim Anderson has started to feel a little more tired than normal.

This is exactly what baseball players mean when they mention the “grind,” that time of the season when the body aches more and each day off is important. It’s not something players can be prepared for — they learn how to handle it as they experience it for the first time. And that’s just what the White Sox shortstop is figuring out — how to manage himself in uncharted territory. Between Triple-A Charlotte and the majors, Anderson has accumulated 646 plate appearances, which is 96 more than he had in 2015. The White Sox have nine more games remaining, including Saturday night’s contest at the Cleveland Indians, which means Anderson could easily reach 680 plate appearances.

“Just working on locking in and staying focused and keeping myself healthy and doing what I’m supposed to do to stay healthy,” Anderson said. “It has been a little tough some times. My body is tired going through this extra month, I’m not really used to it. I’m holding up pretty well and my body is holding up pretty good.”

Anderson appeared to benefit from a day off Thursday when he returned to action on Friday. The team’s top position prospect since Gordon Beckham, Anderson said he spent Thursday hanging out and relaxing at the area home of his cousin, Cleveland Browns fullback Malcolm Johnson.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

He responded to only his third day off all month with two hits, including a first-inning triple on Friday. It was the 30th multi-hit game of Anderson’s career, but only the fifth in September. Anderson, who has a .710 OPS this season, has a .647 September OPS.

“You take advantage of (the time off),” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s played hard. Coming up and realizing that if you are playing everyday, everybody tries to take advantage of it. When you are in your first year, you realize the grind you are going through and you are trying to find a way to be fresh and things like that. You rest and that’s the biggest thing for a day off.”

As much as he’s happy to see the finish line, Anderson wouldn’t mind if the White Sox were gearing up for a postseason run. Though he’s tired, Anderson is still hungry. He said he has no major changes planned in his offseason physical preparation and thinks this experience will be extremely valuable when he goes through it again next September.

“Basically it’s just the first time as a trial,” Anderson said. “See how it is and see how my body reacts and I know what to do next year at this time.

“It’s good. You also want to play more. Just trying to finish strong and end on a good note.”

Preview: Quintana, White Sox look to get back on track vs. Indians tonight on CSN

Preview: Quintana, White Sox look to get back on track vs. Indians tonight on CSN

Jose Quintana takes the hill as the White Sox continue their series against the Cleveland Indians tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (12-11, 3.26 ERA) vs. Cody Anderson (2-4, 6.24 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.