Friday, February 25, 2011
Posted 11:23 a.m. Updated 9:21 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
GLENDALE, Ariz. While sure to mention he hasnt been told anything about a potential Opening Day start, Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle early Friday had the conversation hes undoubtedly anticipated since the start of camp.
In fact, the lefty was so prepared to discuss an Opening Day start that he had prepared both a happy statement in reaction to getting his ninth opener assignment and an angry one in case he was bypassed.
The way its lined up, it looks like Ill start Opening Day, Buehrle said. I havent been told a word yet. Its a great honor. Hopefully, I stay healthy down here and get out there and hopefully do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen loves the drama of naming an Opening Day starter, even when its a no-brainer in picking Buehrle. Still, Guillen could draw the storyline out no longer, caving in and naming Buehrle on just the fourth day of full camp.
You can put it this way: Yeah, hes going to be our starting guy, Guillen said. I dont think GM Kenny Williams is going to say anything It was in the paper this morning and on whatever TV, and Kenny didnt say anything, so thats the guy.
Of course, Buehrles one prior Opening Day game at the Cleveland Indians was also his worst opener ever, giving up seven earned runs to start 2008 but escaping with a no-decision, as the White Sox drove Indians starter C.C. Sabathia out of the box early in an eventual 10-8 loss.
The last time he started Opening Day in Cleveland, oh, it was an ugly one, Guillen said. Ill ask Mark: Please dont do that again.
Hopefully Ill do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland, Buerhle smiled. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.
Buehrle is 3-1 lifetime with a 3.39 ERA in eight Opening Day starts. Remove 2008 from his opener resume, and the lefthanders Opening Day ERA falls to 2.08.
The normally droll veteran still does get excited about getting the nod to open the season. If manager Ozzie Guillen hands him the ball for the April Fools opener, it will extend Buehrles franchise record of season kickoffs to nine.
Its like an All-Star appearance, he said. A lot of people say it gets old, but I dont know how it can get old. Its a buildup from the offseason with all the offseason moves you make. Its the one game thats sold out. Its sort of like a playoff game Its going to be a great atmosphere, and Ill try to get us off on the right foot.
Buehrle had humbly admitted at the start of camp that if consulted, hed endorse fellow lefty John Danks as the Opening Day starter, an endorsement he jokingly pulled back when I reminded him.
No, screw him, Buehrle said, before the two started quibbling (like arguing with my wife, in Buerhles eyes). Ill take the Opening Day start.
Infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen was excused from camp to attend to a family issue. The veteran, who struggled throughout 2010, his first season with the White Sox, looked good in his early drills and apparently was overcoming his hot corner fielding and throwing yips of a year ago.
I always say family is first, Guillen said, anticipating Teahens absence as just a couple of days. You take care of your stuff back home and you come back here and youre more than welcome back.
While rookie Brent Morel is the presumed starter at third base, a righted Teahen is invaluable to the White Sox as a superutility player. Any worries the 29-year-old might have had about his role shrinking while away was quickly allayed by Guillen.
I said to him, What are you going to miss, a game? Dont worry about it, Guillen said. Besides that, when youre on the field and thinking about something else, you might bring it on the field, and that wont help you. Make sure you take care of what you need to take care of, come back here, and well help you.
American League Dominates
White Sox assistant director of media relations Pat OConnell not only spurred the inaugural games, but clocked a deep-drive, ground-rule double as part of a 1-4 effort in Chicagos doubleheader sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers interleague office games.
You can read more about the games in Scott Reiferts Inside the White Sox blog, but one notable oddity (Reifert drew it out first, not me) was public relations coordinator Marty Maloneys two bases-loaded, ground outs to the pitcher in the same inning.
Its pretty clear that for such a unique achievement, it was Maloney and not winning pitchers Jeff Szynal and Stacy Tsihlopoulos, taking MVP honors.
Better luck next year, Dodgers.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.