Buehrle still awed to be All-Star
Ace will be White Sox representative at Midsummer Classic
KANSAS CITY -- Mark Buehrle has an incredibly impressive 130-89 career record.
Chicago's crafty southpaw threw a no-hitter against Texas in 2007, won two postseason contests and even saved a game in the 2005 World Series sweep by the White Sox of Houston. The happily married father of two also is working in the second season of a four-year, $56 million contract.
It would be an understatement to say the humble, easy-going Major Leaguer is living the dream.
But the 30-year-old hurler still finds it hard to believe when the words "All-Star" precede his name.
For the fourth time in his illustrious career, Buehrle will have to get used to that particular feeling. Buehrle was selected as the lone White Sox representative for the 2009 All-Star Game, to be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Tuessay, July 14, added by American League and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon. The announcement was made during Sunday's All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi.
"Excited" was the way Buehrle described his initial reaction upon receiving the news. This particular contest should be a special one for the native of St. Charles, Mo., located approximately 30 minutes away from St. Louis. Buehrle has made no secret of his support for the Cardinals, the favorite team from his childhood, and his desire to some day pitch at Busch Stadium before his career is complete.
Earning this 2009 recognition also meant Buehrle began an All-Star Game ticket search Sunday morning.
"Well, I had a head start on it early when the list came up in Chicago," Buehrle said. "[White Sox director of team travel] Eddie [Cassin] helped me out with getting a lot. I think I had 26 previously. I talked to [Jon] Garland, and he got me 10 extra. I'm still trying to get stuff for the immediate family.
"Not knowing if I was going, nobody wanted to buy them. They weren't going if I wasn't going. I'm not going to be able to please everybody, but I'm trying to get the immediate family."
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Back in 2005, Buehrle was chosen as the AL starting pitcher and earned the victory in Detroit by pitching two scoreless innings, striking out three. He certainly won't be working two innings in 2009, not with being scheduled to start on Tuesday at home against Cleveland and then on Sunday to close out the first half at the Metrodome.
But Buehrle remains fully committed to pitch one inning on what would amount to his side day during the All-Star Game. He holds out little hope that this inning will come as his second All-Star start.
"You have [Zack] Greinke and [Roy] Halladay to go over before you even get close to me," Buehrle said. "So it's not even in the back of my mind. I'm just going there to represent the White Sox.
"Hopefully, they don't need me to come in and face a lefty, because I get righties out better. If it's an inning or a batter or two batters, I'll be available."
Buehrle carries an 8-2 record and a 3.09 ERA into the into first half's final week, coming off of a masterful effort against the Royals this past Thursday in which he took a shutout into the ninth inning. Buehrle has fanned just 62 over 107 2/3 innings, but has given up 97 hits and walked only 24. He also was selected as an All-Star in 2002 and 2006 but did not pitch in 2006 in Pittsburgh.
Sitting at third place in the American League Central, a mere two games over .500, the White Sox still had plenty of candidates to choose from where Sunday's All-Star selection was concerned.
Bobby Jenks has 19 saves and a 3.14 ERA in 29 games. Jermaine Dye leads the team with 20 home runs and has chipped in 51 RBIs and a .291 average. Scott Podsednik, hitting .311 with 12 stolen bases, has been a true savior at the top of the team's lineup.
For 2009, though, the lone White Sox All-Star honor goes to their ace hurler.
"Obviously, every team needs to be represented," Buehrle said. "But we are second in the American League in pitching. That's one of those things where people get snubbed every year. It seems we could have had at least one or two guys go, especially in pitching, and there are a couple of guys from the offense. But that's the way it happens."
In discussing Sunday's announcement with his wife, Jamie, the topic came up of their almost 2-year-old son Braden going to the game. Buehrle pointed out that Braden might not know the difference between a regular-season game and the All-Star Game, with the exception of Ozzie Guillen being absent, but he wanted to take Braden down to the clubhouse and get a few pictures to commemorate the moment for his son.
"I would like for him to be there because this could be the last time I go before I'm done with baseball," Buehrle said.
If Buehrle pitches like he has this year, other All-Star opportunities certainly will arise. The one-time Little Leaguer from St. Charles will pitch at Busch Stadium, in an environment where he has to remind himself that he belongs.
"Any time you get to go, being in the clubhouse with all the superstars, it's still to this day, I'm kind of in shock," said Buehrle with a smile. "I mean, I'm a kid from St. Charles, who dreamed about playing in the Major Leagues, and here I'm in the locker room with all these guys.
"You're like, 'I'm supposed to be on the couch watching this. Or at my buddy's house watching, not involved in it.' It's still a surprise, and I'm still kind of star-struck seeing these guys in the clubhouse and realizing, when I look at my jersey, 'What am I doing in here? I'm not supposed to be here.'"
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.