White Sox

Why Mark Buehrle thinks getting his jersey retired ‘doesn’t really make sense’

Why Mark Buehrle thinks getting his jersey retired ‘doesn’t really make sense’

CSN's coverage of Mark Buehrle Day will begin at 12:30 p.m. and can be live streamed on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

On Saturday, Mark Buehrle will become the 11th player in White Sox history to have his number retired, joining a select group of players who are synonymous with baseball on 35th and Shields. 

Nellie Fox. Harold Baines. Luke Appling. Minnie Minoso. Luis Aparicio. Paul Konerko. Ted Lyons. Billy Pierce. Frank Thomas. Carlton Fisk. And, beginning Saturday, Buehrle’s No. 56 will be never be worn again, instead enshrined between a pair of Hall of Famers in Thomas and Fisk.

“It doesn't really make sense, to be honest with you,” Buehrle said. “Trying to wrap my head around it -- I watched Frank Thomas as a kid growing up and even when I came here and played with him, I couldn't believe it. I’m, like, a fan of Frank Thomas, who's right there. It just doesn't make sense that I'm up there with those guys, Again, I went out there and tried to do what I could do every day and had fun with it and obviously had a good, long successful career. And now here we are getting my number retired. I can't really explain it. It's pretty hard.”

Buehrle is one of only three pitchers to have his number retired by the White Sox, joining Lyons (the franchise leader in wins) and Pierce (the franchise leader in strikeouts). Buehrle won 161 games in 12 seasons with the White Sox, threw a no-hitter and a perfect game, saved Game 3 of the World Series and never threw fewer than 200 innings in a season after his 2000 debut. 

While he didn’t seek out the spotlight, Buehrle’s consistency — plus those historic moments and a few tarp dives mixed in — made No. 56 one of the White Sox most popular players during his time in Chicago. He was well-liked by his teammates and coaches, too, after working his way from being a 38th round draft pick to becoming a five-time All-Star in his career. 

“I think that's one of the best compliments I can get, people liking me,” Buehrle said. “I wanted to be liked by everybody. I had fun at the field, tried to stay loose, try to joke around with guys. 

“I think at the end of the day I'm just a normal dude who was fortunate to play professional baseball and play that long and be healthy.”

Part of Buehrle’s sense of disbelief over his jersey retirement is that he’s only 38 and pitched his last game 21 months ago. While he’s enjoying life after baseball — and is playing first base and hitting cleanup for his beer league softball team — he’s not that far removed from it, unlike even Frank Thomas, who last played nine years ago. 

“I was just a kid playing baseball, little leagues a few years back, and here I am getting my number retired,” Buehrle said. “It’s hard to soak it all in and figure it out.”

Don’t expect Buehrle’s address to the crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field Saturday to go long — just like his starts here — as he said he a “complete disaster” emotionally thinking about the pregame ceremony. His nine-year-old son, Braden, will sing the national anthem and his eight-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, will throw out the first pitch, though Buehrle said he won’t be nervous for those moments since his speech will be over with. It's a moment that'll be special for him and his wife, Jamie. 

But Saturday’s festivities weren’t something Buehrle was expecting when he debuted with the White Sox on July 16, 2000 — or even when he last started for the franchise on Sept. 27, 2011. 

“You don’t think of getting numbers retired or any stuff like this,” Buehrle said. “You just go out there and play the game and the numbers take care of themselves. I knew I would come back but not for something like this, no. No chance.”

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”