White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

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White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though it appeared unlikely not long ago, the White Sox have continued their pursuit of A.J. Pierzynski, according to a baseball source.
On Tuesday, one day after White Sox general manager Rick Hahn went out of his way several times to say the club hasnt ruled out Pierzynskis return, and amid swirling New York Yankees rumors, a baseball source confirmed the two sides continue to have dialogue.
The events of the last two days are in stark contrast to early November, when all signs appeared to point to Pierzynskis departure after eight seasons on the South Side. After all, the White Sox had several needs and limited funds; the veteran is due a raise after hitting a career-high 27 home runs last season; the club has a viable replacement in Tyler Flowers and also appeared to be inclined to solve their other issues first.
Though Hahn has stated all along hes interested in Pierzynski returning, he also has thoroughly backed Flowers as a potential replacement.
The White Sox are high on Flowers game-calling abilities coupled with his receiving skills and arm. Though he at times struggled at the plate last season, the team also believes Flowers is capable of 20-home run power and all at a bargain price compared with Pierzynski, who earned 6 million last season and made it clear he wants a market-value deal.
Over the last few days, Mike Napoli signed a three-year, 39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox and Russell Martin received 17 million over two seasons from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sources made it sound as if the White Sox were OK with the prospect of handing Flowers the reins and letting Pierzynski leave because of expected high prices.
But the White Sox position may have shifted recently for several reasons.
One prominent issue is the team would almost certainly need to find a left-handed bat to replace Pierzynski were he to leave. While Hahn has said he doesnt believe it to be a fatal flaw, the White Sox lineup would be down to Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza as their only regular left-handed hitters if Pierzynski left.
Hahn has also noted the team would weigh the cost of signing or trading for a third baseman versus their own internal options. On Tuesday, Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said they wouldnt rule out the chance of Brent Morel making the team were he healthy. Morel -- who eight homers and had 19 RBIs in 27 games in September 2011 -- missed most of the 2012 season with a back injury, but the team believes hes on the road to recovery.
Another significant issue is Hahn doesnt sound like he wants to break up the White Sox pitching depth to solve their issues. Even though Gavin Floyds name has been mentioned consistently among trade rumors, the White Sox would likely need to bring in another arm were they to move Floyd, whose 9.5 million salary next season is a bargain. The White Sox would likely need to spend more money than theyd like to find a pitcher capable of providing them 200 innings.
Floyds durability -- he has made at least 29 starts in each of the last six seasons -- could also prove important for several other reasons. Jake Peavys 219 innings were his most since he had 173 23 in 2008. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana each eclipsed career highs for innings in 2012. And though indications are John Danks is well on the road to recovery, hes still coming off an August shoulder surgery.
While recent developments appear to be a 180-degree shift, none of it should come as a surprise, either.
Last month, Hahn refused to handicap the situation because of the sentiment factor. Last time Pierzynski was a free agent before the 2010 season, owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in at the last minute to ensure the catcher stayed in town.
Pierzynski, who likely is looking at his final contract, has also spent eight years with the White Sox. Hes comfortable in the clubhouse and is loved by fans for helping to bring Chicago its only World Series title in the last 95 years.
So while chances once appeared remote, and another source suggests they may still be, the possibility of Pierzynskis return to the South Side next season still exists.

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

GLENDALE, Ariz. — He's a little nervous now that he has a speech to make, but Mark Buehrle is enjoying life and has no regrets about retiring from baseball.

Addressing the media for the first time since his final game on Oct. 4, 2015, Buehrle said Friday he's right where he wants to be — at home with his family. Buehrle determined 3-4 years ago he would retire after his contract expired to spend more time with his wife and kids. The pitcher, who will have his number 56 retired by the White Sox on June 24, said he didn't announce his decision to step away because he hoped to do so with much fanfare.

"I knew I was done, that I didn't have the drive any more," Buehrle said on a conference call. "I think a big part of it was missing the family, they weren't up in Toronto the whole season and I think that just kind of drained on me. The reason I didn't say anything — I didn't want all the attention. I've always told people I was a young guy that came into the big leagues unknown. Kind of snuck into the big leagues and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out. That's why I haven't said anything, I haven't talked to anybody, I just kind of let it go. Hopefully one day it was just kind of got forgotten and five years down the road, ‘Where's that Buehrle guy? Is he still around?'"

Buehrle, who won 161 games and completed 200 innings in 11 straight seasons with the White Sox, has spent the past year-plus on his Missouri farm with his wife, Jamie, and two children, "doing what I've been wanting to do for 20 years," he said. 

While he misses teammates and life in the clubhouse, Buehrle is at peace with his decision to retire after 16 seasons. He discovered when watching games last season that he didn't miss playing as much as he expected.

Buehrle joked that he doesn't want many former teammates to attend the ceremony because it means he'd have to speak in front of a larger audience. He promises to keep his speech brief, similar to the way he pitched. The left-hander even joked that he offered to allow his son to make the speech in his stead.

[RELATED: Ranking the five best games Mark Buehrle pitched with the White Sox]

Even though he's one of the most popular players in club history, Buehrle was surprised last month when the White Sox informed him of their plans. He'll be the 12th player to have his number retired by the White Sox.

"I was blown away and floored by it," Buehrle said. "It's obviously a great honor. It's something you don't really intend to happen or you don't play for that reason. You just go out there and play. I had a long, successful career there in Chicago. I just tried to do everything right and that's how I was kind of raised and how I went about it. Jerry (Reinsdorf) is kind enough to come with this offer about retiring my jersey. I really don't know.

"I've been joking around with friends saying my jersey is going to be up there next to Frank Thomas. I grew up watching this guy. It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem like it belongs up there next to his.

"I'm going to be up there with all those numbers and it doesn't seem right, like that's where I belong. I just did what I was supposed to do, had fun with it and lived every day like it was my last. Now my number is going to be up there. I haven't really soaked everything in. It just doesn't make sense right now."

Carson Fulmer to start for White Sox in exhibition opener

Carson Fulmer to start for White Sox in exhibition opener

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox have lined up their first three starting pitchers of the spring starting with Carson Fulmer on Saturday afternoon.

The team's 2015 first-round draft pick received the nod as the White Sox open their exhibition schedule against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. CST. 

Jose Quintana pitches Sunday at home against the Colorado Rockies while Lucas Giolito is set to start at the Cubs on Monday. Fulmer — who went 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in 11 2/3 innings in 2016 — likened the start to pitching against the Dodgers in a night game last spring in front of a sellout crowd at Camelback Ranch.

"I'm definitely honored," Fulmer said. "It's great. I feel like the coaching staff here stresses that in order to be a good player, you have to put yourself in situations that you are uncomfortable with. I'm not saying I'm uncomfortable with it but it was definitely a unique situation where I can go out there and help us win. So, spring training and the season, our goal is to win and I feel like with the coaching staff putting us young guys in that situation, I think it's going to benefit us."

[RELATED: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury]

Fulmer is also excited to face his counterpart Saturday, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. 

"That's awesome," Fulmer said. "I've been watching him pitch since I was a little kid. I'm definitely pumped to see him out there. It's going to be awesome. 

"He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. I mean, he's a pitcher that you look up to and for me, it's going to be awesome. I hopefully can keep the scorecard or something."

The White Sox also announced Friday they have signed 25 players to one-year contracts, including Fulmer. Carlos Rodon's one-year deal for $600,000 is the highest of the bunch.