Notes: Buehrle ready to return home
Southpaw anxious to pitch at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday
BOSTON -- Honesty and a realistic attitude toward how baseball works have been just two of the qualities White Sox fans and media alike appreciate in Mark Buehrle.
Of course, his 104-71 career record and his ability to bring games in somewhere around two hours aren't lost in the translation either with the left-hander.
These particular traits make it easy for Buehrle to understand that, while Monday night's big crowd might give him another standing ovation before his first home start since agreeing to a four-year, $56 million extension, those same cheers will quickly turn to boos if he doesn't perform well on the field.
"At the beginning, they might give me a standing ovation or applaud me for getting something done or signing back," Buehrle said. "Ultimately, it comes down to how you are pitch during the game.
"If you are not pitching good, I don't think they will be too happy with me. It's frustrating when home fans boo you or boo your team, but playing the way we have been early in the year, or the way I was pitching last year, we really didn't give them anything to cheer about.
"Really, I hate [struggling] more than anybody sitting in the stands booing me," Buehrle added. "But I understand when you are getting your butt handed to you out there, I can see why they are booing you."
This much-ballyhooed new contract for Buehrle was announced just minutes after the first half of baseball came to an end at U.S. Cellular, when Buehrle and his teammates still were on the field enjoying a 6-3 victory over Minnesota. Buehrle mentioned Saturday how he had a chance to address the crowd that Sunday afternoon, but added he's not one for speaking in front of big crowds.
"Actually, [White Sox vice president of marketing] Brooks Boyer came up with a microphone and started walking over to me," said Buehrle with a laugh. "I was like, 'What am I going to do? Say thanks or that I'm glad to be here?'
"I don't like doing that stuff anyways. He was walking over and I was like, 'Get the heck away from me. I don't want that mic.'"
Although Buehrle couldn't put his feelings into words on July 8, he does appreciate the great fan support over the years and, in particular, during his recent contract stalemate.
"Obviously, my family and friends tell me, 'Everyone out there loves you,' or, 'They like you a lot,'" Buehrle said. "To some degree, I see why, and to some degree, I don't.
"I don't go out of my way to do things for people or go that extra mile. It's just the way I am. I'm the type of guy who likes to have fun. I'm open to everyone. I like to joke around with the fans. I guess everything I do they like about me, I don't try to do.
"That's the way I was raised by my parents," Buehrle added. "In some ways, it's like, 'What did I do for them to love me this much?' I go out and pitch. I have fun. I'm not going over the top to try to please everyone to get people to like me."
Make the call: Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik appear to be moving closer to a return to the White Sox, judging by Friday's rehab efforts for Triple-A Charlotte. Podsednik had two hits and was caught stealing twice, and Erstad singled once in four at-bats.
If the White Sox deem this duo ready to return for Monday's contest against Detroit, or Tuesday's doubleheader, then the South Siders have some personnel decisions to make. Jerry Owens would be a logical move back to the Minors, but the rookie center fielder entered Saturday with hits in 11 straight starts and holding the team lead at 10 stolen bases.
"We're thinking about it right now, but the way Owens is playing, I think he's earning a spot," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his leadoff man. "He's making it a little tougher for us.
"This is not going to be an easy situation or a comfortable situation. But that's the game."
With the 12-man staff staying in place by Guillen's decree, Andy Gonzalez and Luis Terrero could be headed back to Charlotte. But Guillen also likes the balance provided with their right-handed hitting, and the fact that Gonzalez can play pretty much every position.
Guillen also briefly addressed the quandary his team could find at third base next year, with a recovering Joe Crede being arbitration-eligible and Josh Fields getting better with each start. If Crede returns 100 percent healthy, Guillen seemed inclined to keep his Silver Slugger and see what they could do with Fields.
A move to left field for Fields would not be out of the question in Guillen's mind.
"I don't mind trying him there, but to put Josh in the outfield, it means my outfield has to be fast, because all of a sudden, we're going to lose speed," Guillen said. "But we don't know exactly what we are going to do."
Welcome to The Show: As Ehren Wasserman raced in from the bullpen during the eighth inning of Friday's 10-3 loss, the rookie right-hander had a couple of thoughts going through his mind in regard to his Major League debut.
"I just tried not to trip and fall," said Wasserman with a smile. "And when I got on the mound, I was just trying to throw strikes."
Wasserman followed his plan on both accounts, striking out Coco Crisp and retiring Dustin Pedroia on a ground ball to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi. The sidearming right-hander clearly was a bit more nervous than his average 2007 relief appearance for Charlotte. But he had time to calm himself as the Red Sox fans called for a curtain call following Julio Lugo's grand slam.
"It was definitely something I'm going to remember the rest of my life," Wasserman said.
Around the horn: The 10 earned runs allowed by Jose Contreras on Friday marked the second time this season a White Sox starter has given up a double-digit output in a game, following the 11 allowed by Jon Garland against Minnesota on July 6. The White Sox became the first team to have two different pitchers reach that dubious mark in the same season since Jeremy Affeldt and Luke Hudson for the Royals last year. ... Guillen defended his David Ortiz-like shift on Eric Hinske on Friday night, leading to his bunt single down the third-base line during a four-run fifth. Guillen ointied to double plays turned on Hinske last year with the same alignment.
Down on the farm: Chris Carter launched his 21st home run, driving in two, as part of Class A Kannapolis' 10-8 loss to Charleston on Friday. The first baseman has 71 RBIs this season. ... Five rookie league Bristol pitchers allowed one run in 18 innings during a doubleheader sweep of Bluefield. Po-Yu Lin struck out five and gave up four hits over 8 1/3 innings during a 1-0 victory in Game 1, and four hurlers combined for the 2-1 decision in the nightcap, fanning 11. Oney Guillen drove in a run during the second game. ... Four starters knocked out at least three hits as part of rookie league Great Falls' 25-hit attack during a 17-3 shellacking of Ogden. C.J. Retherford and Lyndon Estill drove in four apiece in support of John Ely, who improved to 2-0 with seven strikeouts in five innings.
On deck: Road warrior Garland (7-6, 3.88) takes the mound for Sunday's series finale at Fenway Park at 1:05 p.m. CT and the culmination of this 11-game road trip. Garland has a 3-0 record with a 2.00 ERA over his last four road starts.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.