Buehrle prepared for White Sox tenure to end

Buehrle prepared for White Sox tenure to end

Buehrle prepared for White Sox tenure to end
CHICAGO -- Mark Buehrle makes his 31st and final start of the 2011 season on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, needing 1 2/3 innings to reach at least 200 innings pitched, at least 30 starts made and double-digit wins for the 11th straight season.

It's the longest such active streak in the Majors. But if that Buehrle streak continues on in 2012 and beyond, it might not be with the White Sox. Buehrle will be experiencing free agency for the first time, as his four-year, $56-million deal comes to a close, and isn't sure what to expect.

Buehrle is certain that this typically consistent 12-9 effort with a 3.72 ERA won't be his last as a Major Leaguer, which is an idea he toyed with over the past couple of years.

"Obviously, I'd like to play two or three more years," said Buehrle, speaking in the White Sox dugout before Monday's series opener with the Blue Jays. "Getting a five-year deal is probably not going to happen. If a one year deal was the only offer, then you got to take it. But I'm looking for a couple more years.

"It's the first time I'm testing as a free agent, so you kind of go home and wait for the phone to start ringing and go from there. You have a conversation with your agent and your wife and talk it out and see what you want to do."

During last week's series in Cleveland, Buehrle told MLB.com that moving to the National League has a certain appeal after working 12 years against the same teams in the American League Central. He also talked about the allure of seeing what another organization is like, with the White Sox being the only one he has ever known.

Numerous decisions remain on the table for the White Sox to make as they move toward 2012, including who will be running their team. With Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Zach Stewart, Philip Humber and potentially Chris Sale all under team control as part of the rotation, Buehrle could be deemed expendable.

Of course, Buehrle's high value extends from the pitcher's mound to the clubhouse, making him a potential mistake to let go.

"I'd like to think so, but they have a business standpoint," Buehrle said. "Money they spent this year and we didn't get to where we should have been and what they have out there for next year, and young guys they want to get in the starting rotation. I'd like to think someone is going to miss me around here.

"At the same time, everything's got to come to an end. You've got to move on, whether it's this year, two years or five years down the road."