Notes: Buehrle sparks controversy

Notes: Buehrle sparks controversy

ARLINGTON -- Ozzie Guillen found himself in an interesting quandary prior to Tuesday's doubleheader at Ameriquest Field.

On one hand, Guillen is the ultimate player's manager and stressed that he would protect the individuals on his team, whether they were wrong or right. On the other side of the coin, Guillen didn't exactly seem to agree with Mark Buehrle's postgame assessment from Monday night in regards to the Rangers gaining some sort of unfair or even unethical advantage at home.

So, Guillen did what comes naturally. He spoke his mind, honestly and frankly.

"Like I say, you don't get caught, you can't call them cheaters," Guillen said. "They are smart. But they have a good club and a good hitting team. Everybody knows that in baseball.

"You can go either way. The way Buehrle pitched yesterday, it seemed like they didn't need no signs. Everything Buehrle pitched was right down the middle of the plate, sinker, slider or changeup, whatever he was throwing. He didn't have his stuff yesterday.

"I asked [Buehrle] what happened, and he said because the average is better here than on the road, but it doesn't mean anything," Guillen added. "You have a team like the Texas Rangers and you expect them to get a lot of hits."

Guillen proceeded to rattle off the long line of quality hitters who have suited up for the Rangers over the years, starting with Rafael Palmeiro, moving to Ivan Rodriguez and working his way down to Julio Franco. He also praised Rudy Jaramillo, the Rangers' hitting coach, as one of the best in the business.

Jaramillo was one of the Rangers who had some fun with Buehrle's assertion that the host squad was using an intricate system of flashing lights in center to signal incoming pitches. Phil Nevin, who struck out twice against Buehrle and finished 0-for-4, asked why he didn't get the sign. Reliever Doug Brocail quipped that he was going to use flashlights from the bullpen to send signals during the afternoon opener.

Even the mascot, the Rangers Captain, held up a sign during the early stages of Game 1 reading, "Hey, Buehrle. I'm stealing signs." The left-hander's comments literally became bulletin board fodder, as it was taped up in the Texas clubhouse.

"It's so crazy and it's funny," Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We're a good hitting team and every team plays better at home. I'm curious to how it would work logistically. He is so quick in between pitches it would be impossible to do. I'm not offended. It's an outrageous claim."

Buehrle, who allowed four earned runs on nine hits over seven innings, stuck to his claim. He said that the rumor did not simply emanate from the White Sox clubhouse but came from "tons of people" outside of the organization. He pointed to Texas' .285 average at home, not to mention its 36-29 record, as opposed to its .256 mark on the road as prime support, as well as Rangers' hitters reacting to certain pitches as if they knew what was coming.

Ultimately, Buehrle stated that he wasn't making excuses, and the Rangers clearly beat him. It was the same line of thought from Guillen. But much like his inferences that a certain Cubs' pitcher might be using an illegal pitch before the two teams met in June, Buehrle stood far from letting go of the notion.

"If there are other teams that hit that well at home, you wonder the same thing," Buehrle said. "If they have somebody out in center field or whatever they're doing, that's cheating."

"Sometimes you think he would say something out of frustration, but I don't think he is," Jaramillo added. "He can think whatever he wants. We had a plan, saw a flaw in his delivery and we went with it."

Doing his thing: The return of Willie Harris to the Majors came without much fanfare, as he replaced Joe Crede on the active roster Tuesday. But that lack of attention was fine with the left-handed-hitting second baseman.

Harris' plan is to simply do his own thing, while helping the White Sox fight their way to the postseason.

"As far as me going out to try and get four or five hits every day, no, I'm not doing that anymore," a subdued Harris said. "I'll play my game and however it turns out, that's how it turns out.

"In the past, I always tried to get people to like me as a player. Sometimes, I get caught up in doing too much. As I get older, all I can do is be me. I'm just going out to play my game and that should be enough, instead of putting all the pressure on myself."

During 28 games for Triple-A Charlotte, Harris hit .275 with 10 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as an everyday player. He carried a .217 average into a start during Tuesday's opener, with six RBIs and eight stolen bases. As an arbitration-eligible player, Harris realizes his chances to return to the White Sox next year are slim.

But Harris isn't concerning himself with next year.

"Right now, I play for the White Sox," Harris said. "I know the situation. When it comes up, I'll deal with it the best way I can then."

Best wishes: Allen Thomas, the White Sox director of conditioning, returned to Chicago and entered Rush University Medical Center on Tuesday, receiving an IV for symptoms relating to the possible return of an infection in his lower left leg. It has been a horrendous personal run for Thomas, who already missed one month due to a bout of Cellulitis, after being hit with a baseball earlier in the season in Detroit. Thomas and his family also lost their home in North Carolina due to an explosion caused by a gas leak.

Dale Torborg has rejoined the team, replacing Thomas temporarily.

Down on the farm: Daniel Haigwood improved to 6-1 for Double-A Birmingham, striking out nine over seven innings, during the Barons' 3-1 victory over Jacksonville Monday night. Haigwood is 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his last five starts, with 36 strikeouts in 32 innings.

Ray Liotta raised his record to 6-1 for Class A Winston-Salem, giving up four hits over six scoreless innings, as the Warthogs claimed a 6-0 victory and moved into first place by one-half game. Liotta is 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA over his last three starts. Leo Daigle raised his RBI total to 105, while Thomas Collaro moved within three RBIs of 100.

Coming soon: Orlando Hernandez concludes this four-game set in Texas, making his second start of the season against the Rangers. Hernandez has a 7-4 career record when facing Texas, with a 4.39 ERA.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.