Buehrle has undying support of wife

Buehrle has undying support of wife

ANAHEIM -- Somewhere around the end of July, when general manager Ken Williams has finished fine tuning the 2007 White Sox roster at the non-waiver trade deadline, Mark and Jamie Buehrle will welcome their first child into the world.

Jamie Buehrle simply hopes their son is born while they are both still part of the immediate White Sox family. With the dominance Mark has shown through the season's first six weeks, including hurling the franchise's 16th no-hitter on April 18, a move involving the ace left-hander seems rather unlikely.

But Buehrle's highly supportive wife understands a trade scenario remains possible when your husband will become a much sought after free agent following the current campaign. As has been written about frequently since SoxFest in January, the demand for Buehrle could price him out of the market for a return to the only organization he has ever known, meaning the White Sox could look to get something for him before the offseason arrives.

That concept brings Jamie Buehrle back to their baby's due date.

"We couldn't have picked a better time," said Jamie with a smile, speaking before her husband's recent start against the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I still think that's a possibility and it scares us," added Jamie on Mark being moved to another team at the non-waiver deadline. "I knew that going into a relationship with him that [a trade] was a possibility, but he really wants to get something done here and hopefully stay here."

Mark and Jamie will celebrate their second wedding anniversary this December but have been together since 2003, when they met through mutual friends at a gym in St. Louis. The two actually went to the same high school, but they never knew of each other.

When Jamie received the initial lowdown on the man who eventually would become her husband, she was informed that Mark pitched for the White Sox. But being in a devoted National League city such as St. Louis, Jamie pointed out how she didn't hear much about the baseball's other circuit.

Four years later, their relationship remains so close and comfortable that Jamie describes it as weird because "it's too easy between us." She explained how her husband joked about a reality show of the two being boring because they basically "sit at home, watch TV and play with our dogs."

And now there's the added responsibility of raising a child, to which Jamie pokes fun at her husband, as dealing with Mark gave her a head start in that particular area.

"I always say that we are having our second child and I'm already raising one," said Jamie with a laugh. "He really looks at everything through a kid's eyes. He loves life for what it is and wants to do the fun things, and who cares about the responsible part of stuff? That's where I come in.

"That's how he is and I love that about him," Jamie added.

This exciting stretch for the Buehrle family comes on the heels of one of the toughest runs professionally for Mark, which also had a slight impact on their personal life for the first time in his career. On July 2, 2006, Buehrle began the day with a 9-4 record and a 3.22 ERA, good enough to earn his third All-Star selection during six years as a starting pitcher.

By the time that particular afternoon's effort had come to a close at Wrigley Field, with Buehrle allowing 10 earned runs on 13 hits in 5 1/3 innings, the affable left-hander had begun what would become the worst stretch of his Major League career.

During the month of July alone, Buehrle finished with a dismal 0-5 record and 11.48 ERA, and his second-half record checked in at 3-7 with a 6.44 ERA. Through it all, Jamie stood strong next to her husband.

"She means the world to me," said Buehrle of his wife's support. "Last year showed a lot because she never really had seen me struggle before. She was right here behind me, good or bad. I have a terrible game and she's behind me. I have a good game and she's behind me."

Watching her husband struggle and suffer psychologically was just as tough on Jamie as it was for Mark to actually endure. The laid-back and easy-going Buehrle, known in part for his past tarp diving during rain delays as much as his pinpoint accuracy on the mound, took the struggles to heart for the first time that Jamie had witnessed.

Those tough times left both Buehrles with a pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning, game-by-game approach for 2007. But there's no denying the tremendous lift produced by Buehrle's historic effort against Texas, when he came within one Sammy Sosa walk of working a perfect game.

As is usually the case, Jamie was seated in the U.S. Cellular Field stands, watching her husband.

"Everyone keeps telling me the love you have for your husband is nothing compared to your kid, but I can't even imagine because I was so proud of him that night. It's indescribable," Jamie said. "I still get really nervous when he pitches, but around the eighth inning, I looked up there, and in my mind, I was still thinking complete-game shutout. But then I realized it.

"I'm kind of glad because the eighth and ninth innings were terrible. I was a mess. By the ninth inning, I was crying with every batter.

"I knew how much he struggled last year, so you couldn't wish this at a better time," Jamie added. "Coming off of a bad year and how tough he took it, and how hard he worked this offseason, I mean I want him to show people he does take it seriously. This is his job and he doesn't want to lose, just like the fans don't want to lose."

A poignant shot of Buehrle hugging his wife and kissing their unborn child shortly after the no-hitter's final out was broadcast across the country. Jamie kidded that she couldn't be accused of not being in the moment, as she had "the ugly cry going."

"At the time, it was just overwhelming," Jamie said.

Celebrating the no-hitter wouldn't have been complete for Buehrle without his wife, but on most other occasions, Mark is very protective of keeping Jamie out of the media spotlight. Jamie likes that separation between the home and workplace, although she admits that it's still tough for her to keep quiet when listening to people criticize her husband during a respective start.

Assuming Mark Buehrle stays with the White Sox through the rest of the 2007 campaign, life still promises big changes in addition to the new baby. As a highly successful pitcher entering an already inflated free-agent market, Buehrle should command top dollar over the course of a multi-year deal.

According to Jamie, though, the dollars won't change the way they live.

"Honestly, I don't think about it," Jamie said. "People laugh because I do things the way I did before. Mark and I kind of laugh about it. I buy bargain stuff at the grocery store. We just save it all, so if it ever comes to when he doesn't play anymore, we are OK."

Monetary figures set aside, the White Sox clearly think very highly of Buehrle's contributions both on and off the field. During Spring Training, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf even pulled Buehrle aside and told him that he understood Buehrle's desire to check the open market, but simply wanted to have a chance to match any offer.

And then there was a moment from the past Spring Training, when Jamie was watching her husband pitch in a "B" game from the somewhat uncomfortable metal bleachers near the Minor League back fields. Manager Ozzie Guillen promptly moved Jamie into a chair near the coaches and media behind the backstop.

It was a move signifying the family feeling permeating the White Sox organization. It's a feeling that always will extend to the Buehrles, whether they stay in Chicago or move on to another locale.

"Ozzie is unbelievable," Jamie said. "He's even said that he feels the same way about me as if he had a daughter that was pregnant. It's weird because I think, 'Why us? Why is he so attached to us?' But he has told Mark that no matter what, he'll be there for our child being born.

"That means the world to me because I know a lot of managers really couldn't care less," Jamie added. "I just truly believe the way it's meant to be [with the contract], it will play out."

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