White Sox

Mark Buehrle describes the 'amazing feeling' of having jersey number retired by White Sox

Mark Buehrle describes the 'amazing feeling' of having jersey number retired by White Sox

Mark Buehrle might need time to process everything that took place Saturday afternoon when he was surrounded by friends, family, teammates and fans, showered with gifts and overwhelmed by emotion.

The White Sox officially retired the number of one of the most popular players in team history in front of 38,618 at Guaranteed Rate Field. A banner covering Buehrle’s No. 56 was unfurled during an afternoon ceremony that makes the left-hander one of 11 players in club history whose number has been retired. Surrounded by fellow honoree Frank Thomas among many others, the always humble Buehrle -- who won 161 games in 12 seasons with the White Sox -- said afterward he’s not sure he belongs in the club.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Buehrle said. “It’s going to take time. I don’t know if it’s ever going to sink in and realize there it is.

“Amazing feeling. Can’t really put it into words how you feel. I wasn’t actually as nervous as I thought I would be once I was up there. But obviously glad it’s over with and it’s a special day.”

Buehrle’s list of dignitaries included Thomas, managers Ozzie Guillen and Jerry Manuel, Cliff Polite, Scott Podsednik, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, Jon Garland, John Danks and hitting coach Greg Walker.

White Sox play by play man Hawk Harrelson emceed a ceremony that lasted 30 minutes. Included were speeches by Thomas and White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper as well as an unveiling of a series of gifts. The team presented Buehrle with a new truck, a baseball collage put together by Ron Kittle, a four-seat All-Terrain Vehicle -- much to the enjoyment of his duck hunting club seated on the 400 level -- as well as the flip-through-the-legs ball from Opening Day 2010. Club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also spoke during the ceremony, dropping in a series of one-liners.

“I’ve never seen him upset,” Guillen said. “I’ve never seen him overreact. Day in and day out he was the same guy. That’s what makes him so special. His teammates loved him.

“Buehrle did something: outsmart people. People don’t have stuff like him they think I’m smart, I can do this and fake it. Buehrle just grabbed the ball and threw it.

“To survive for so many years and have your number retired, there’s not that many people up there.

“It’s amazing with the stuff he had. I’ve seen a lot of better pitchers with better stuff. You don’t see too many guys with the same heart.”

Buehrle said Friday that he anticipated he’d be an emotional wreck for the event. The man beloved by the public isn’t much for public speaking. Throw in all of his friends and family present and Buehrle just hoped to get through his own speech. He said the sight of seeing his number unfurled almost put him over the edge.

“Emotions and trying to breathe deep and don’t start crying, tearing up,” Buehrle said. “I was trying to hold my emotions together. But just looking up there and seeing that. I can’t put it into words.”

When it was his turn to say the words, Buehrle spoke the way he pitched: tidy and efficient. Wearing a suit and sunglasses in case he teared up, Buehrle spoke with his wife and children at his side. Aside from his family, Buehrle said he avoided naming names during the 4-minute, 19-second speech because he had too many people to thank for the journey from 38th-round draft pick to all-time great.

Buehrle said he wouldn’t be able to pick out his favorite part until he watches the ceremony again later. After the ceremony, Buehrle's son sang the National Anthem and his daughter threw out the first pitch.

“When I watch it back in a couple hours and realize what happened and what really went on,” Buehrle said. “It’s kind of hard to hear out there, but it’s just everything. I had Frank Thomas and Jim Thome behind me. They’re here for my day. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Luis Robert crushes baseballs at White Sox Summer Camp batting practice

Luis Robert crushes baseballs at White Sox Summer Camp batting practice

While the White Sox shared some bad news on Sunday that two players tested positive for COVID-19, there was some good to go with the bad.

The team tweeted out two particularly exciting videos for fans, as Summer Camp got underway in earnest.

First, we’ve got Luis Robert absolutely crushing balls in batting practice:

Honestly it’s hard to pick a favorite part of that vid. The crack of the bat is so pure and seems to reverberate for miles and miles.

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You’ve also got Eloy Jimenez narrating in the background, “That ball is waayyyy outta here!”

It’s fantastic.

Then about an hour later, the Sox treated us to this video of Carlos Rodon getting back in action:

Rodon is one of the players who may benefit the most from a delayed start to the season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last May.

Next step, continue to make sure everyone can get their work in while staying healthy and safe.


RELATED: José Abreu: White Sox expectations still high, but 'it's on us' to meet them

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José Abreu: White Sox expectations still high, but 'it's on us' to meet them

José Abreu: White Sox expectations still high, but 'it's on us' to meet them

José Abreu has always kept the faith.

He's never played for a White Sox team with a winning record, but while playing through the last three rebuilding seasons — where the losses piled up to a combined 284 — Abreu never wavered in his belief that brighter days were around the corner. He spent the 2019 season heaping praise on Rick Hahn's rebuilding effort, practically giving away in the months before free agency that there was only one place he would consider continuing his major league career: on the South Side of Chicago.

Well, he's back, with a new multi-year contract in tow, ready to finally see his team make the leap out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. There's good reason to believe all the promises Abreu made last season will come true. "I know we are going to be very, very good," he said after hitting that walk-off homer last July. Then the young core of Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito broke out in a big way. Then Hahn's front office went and added Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and other veterans with winning experience. Then Luis Robert got a big-money deal to pave his way to the majors.

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It finally looks like Abreu's words are coming true. But the man with all the faith knows it's only possible if these White Sox do it themselves.

"It’s on us," he said Sunday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "We have to keep our focus and do our work and our job to perform and to do the things we all know we can do and to keep that excitement level that we had through spring training.

"I don’t have any doubt we are going to do it. It’s something we have to work on and to keep our focus on that."

Those words are really no surprise coming from Abreu, lauded in the White Sox clubhouse for his work ethic and his preparation. He's passed those values on to Moncada and Jiménez. Robert figures to be the next member of the Abreu mentorship program. Part of the reason these White Sox appear ready to do big things is that Abreu has pointed them in the right direction.

All the good feelings that flowed out of Camelback Ranch during spring training seemed warranted. The White Sox seemed to be on the precipice of contention.

“I think it's just about time for us to start winning,” Abreu said in February. “It's just that time for us to start winning games and start to be relevant.

“The team that the front office put together, we're going to be able to do it. We have to be united. We need to be strong in good times and bad times if we want to be successful this season. With the guys that we have right now, that's something that's doable. That's our goal.

“I think expectations are high because we all know that this is the time for us to win.”

RELATED: Dallas Keuchel suggests White Sox can 'wreak a little havoc in the AL Central'

A lot has changed since then.

Baseball's typical 162-game marathon has been squeezed down to a 60-game sprint to the postseason by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the White Sox are participating in "Summer Camp" workouts while the pandemic continues to grip American life. The White Sox themselves announced Sunday that two players tested positive for COVID-19 prior to workouts starting. Players around the league are opting out of the season, and the game's best player, Mike Trout, remains undecided about whether he'll play or not this season. Outside the walls of major league ballparks, the number of cases is rising in many states.

Still, though, the White Sox remain confident that they'll be able to accomplish what they set out to accomplish in spring training, even though they enter a season just 60 games long and full of unknowns.

"I think our goals are going to be the same and our expectations are going to be the same," Abreu said Sunday. "Of course, in spring training we were preparing for 162 games. Now, it’s just 60. But I think if we keep up with our work and keep doing what we were doing there, we are going to be able to do the same in the 60-game season."

Abreu's obviously not alone in that opinion, with Moncada, Jiménez, Keuchel, Hahn and Rick Renteria sharing similar thoughts in recent days.

It's been tough for White Sox fans to get so amped up for the most anticipated season of South Side baseball in years, only for the pandemic to take it away. Even with the season scheduled to happen at the moment, White Sox players have a lot of challenges ahead of them.

But it doesn't appear that recapturing the excitement or reestablishing high expectations are among them.

As long as they put in the work, Abreu style.


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