A return to U.S. Cellular Field might be just what Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and former Sox ace Mark Buehrle needs.
On Saturday, the fast-working left-hander will make his first start on the South Side since his 12-year run with the Sox ended in 2011.
Fans will almost certainly give a warm reception to Buehrle, whose Sox highlights include a World Series in 2005, a perfect game in 2009 and four All-Star Game appearances.
“It’s nice to come back where you played for so long and hopefully get cheered,” Buehrle said Friday. “I remember Frank [Thomas] got cheered. Then he hit two home runs and started getting booed. If I pitch too good I met get booed walking off the mound, I don’t know.”
Buehrle, who still wears No. 56, has struggled since June, winning one game after a 10-1 start. He is 11-8 with a 3.31 ERA and hasn’t pitched more than four innings in his last two starts.
His counterpart on the mound will be friend and former teammate John Danks, who said Buehrle has been overlooked and underrated throughout his career.
“You can bank on him getting 200 innings, 30 starts and 10 or more wins,” Danks said. “He’s done that how many years in a row?
“The guy has meant so much to this organization and brought fans a championship. I’m glad he’s pitching here, and I hope we knock him out of the game in the second inning.”
Buehrle went 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA during his 12 seasons with the Sox. He signed with the Miami Marlins after the 2011 season and was traded to the Blue Jays in 2012.
Apart from the changes that come with age, Buehrle said he’s mostly the same pitcher as he was three years ago.
“I’m 10 pounds heavier,” Buehrle said. “I throw slower, and I’m not as agile on the mound as I used to be. My body hurts. But I’m throwing the exact same pitches.”
Cooper has tantrum of his own
Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who was back with the team after dealing with the effects of vertigo, said he was upset about the obstruction call Wednesday that led to a seven-run inning and loss in San Francisco.
Umpires reversed a call at the plate and ruled obstruction on catcher Tyler Flowers after a replay review in the seventh inning. The Giants run tied the game, and went on to win 7-1.
Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up two hits through six innings before being charged with four earned runs in the seventh and taking the loss.
“We got [bleeped] in San Francisco,” Cooper said. “Q found another way to get [bleeped]. That rule has got to be changed. It’s ridiculous. The whole thing about getting replay is to get the play right. They had the thing right. He’s out by 10 feet.”
“I was screaming at the TV that night. I could not believe it. Q is dealing, throwing a good [bleeping]ing game, and that [bleep] happened. A new way to get [bleeped].”
Garcia could join tean this weekend
Manager Robin Ventura said outfielder Avisail Garcia could return to the club as soon as this weekend.
Garcia, who tore the labrum in his left shoulder on April 9, was expected to miss the rest of the season. He started a rehab assignment two weeks ago in Charlotte, where he is hitting .340 with four extra-base hits in 13 games.
“You’ve got to make sure he feels comfortable enough that he has the right amount of at-bats,” Ventura said. “You don’t want him feeling like he’s still a step behind of feeling totally ready to go.”