GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mark Buehrle said he was “blown away and floored” by the White Sox’ decision to retire his number.
He also is trying to cope with the thought of making a speech in front of what should be — based on his popularity as a player — a big crowd when the Sox honor him -before a game against the Athletics on June 24.
“I’m just trying to not pass out from thinking I’ve got to get up there and do a speech,’’ Buehrle said. “You think I’m joking, I’m not.”
That’s Buehrle in a nutshell. He’s a humble, down-to-earth guy, a consummate pro and a fan favorite who performed at a high level consistently with less-than-spectacular stuff. Keeping a low profile on his farm in Missouri, Buehrle hasn’t talked to the media since pitching his last game for the Blue Jays at the end of the 2015 season.
Buehrle made his mark with the Sox, making nine Opening Day starts in 10 seasons, pitching a no-hitter and a perfect game, making four All-Star teams, winning three Gold Gloves and helping the Sox win the 2005 World Series.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around,” Buehrle said. “I was blown away and floored by it. It’s a great honor. You don’t really intend for it to happen, or you don’t play for that reason. You just go out there and play.”
The Sox announced Thursday that Buehrle would be the 11th Sox player to have his number retired. He talked with reporters on a conference call Friday.
“I’ve been joking around with friends saying my jersey is going to be up there next to [Hall of Famer] Frank Thomas,” Buehrle said.
Buehrle said he misses the camaraderie of the clubhouse and teammates but hasn’t missed playing as much as he thought he would, mostly because his wife, Jamie, two children and four dogs have kept him busy at home.
He knew for some time, he said, that his career would be over when his contract was up in Toronto.
“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,” he said. “The reason I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want all the attention.”
Buehrle was a 38th-round draft pick by the Sox.
“Kind of snuck into the big leagues, and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out,” he said.
But the attention June 24 will be unavoidable.
“I just did what I was supposed to do, had fun with it and lived every day like it was my last,” Buehrle said. “Now my number is going to be up there. I haven’t really soaked everything in. It just doesn’t make sense right now.”
NOTES: Carson Fulmer will start the spring opener against the Dodgers and their ace, Clayton Kershaw, on Saturday (890-AM, whitesox.com). “Hopefully, I can keep the scorecard or something,’’ Fulmer said of opposing the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
• Jose Quintana starts Sunday against the Rockies, and Lucas Giolito pitches Monday against the Cubs.
• The Sox agreed to terms with 25 players, including Carlos Rodon ($600,000), Tim Anderson and Tyler Saladino. All the players on the 40-man roster are now under contract.
• Rodon, who hasn’t thrown a bullpen session yet, will throw long toss Saturday for the second time in three days, manager Rick Renteria said. “We’re going to give him a few more sessions of those and see where he’s at.’’
• Jesse Crain (Sunday) and Matt Thornton (March 4) are scheduled to work with Russ Langer during webcasts.
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