And the 2005 World Series hero proved worthy of the hoopla, knocking out two hits and scoring the game-winning run during a 4-3 victory over the Rangers (10-12), raising the White Sox road record to 6-4. Podsednik's return wasn't the only comeback that made a difference at the start of this five-game road trip for the South Siders.
Chris Getz, who missed the past five games due to a fracture at the tip of the middle finger on his right hand, assumed his spot at the top of the order and drove home Podsednik to give the White Sox (12-10) the lead in the seventh. Jim Thome, out the past three games with a sore left heel, delivered a bases-loaded double in the sixth to erase a 3-0 deficit and start the White Sox well on their way to the victorious rally.
Getz, Josh Fields and Carlos Quentin all came home on Thome's drive off the top of the left-center-field wall, giving Thome 1,501 RBIs for his illustrious career. That amazing number wasn't lost on Thome, who has as great an appreciation for baseball's history as any superstar in the game.
On this night, though, it wasn't as important as the final outcome.
"This is a big-time win, a huge win for us," Thome said. "They jumped out ahead early, and we fortunately battled and got big hits when we needed them. You take these wins any day."
"[Mark] Buehrle kept us in the game like he usually does," Podsednik said. "And we got the big hits."
All of the White Sox big hits came with two outs, starting with Quentin's fourth-inning single to center off of Texas starter Scott Feldman, who had retired 11 straight up to that point. Feldman was lifted in the sixth after walking Quentin to load the bases, with hard-throwing southpaw Derek Holland (0-1) brought in to face Thome.
Thome didn't get the first Holland fastball, but connected on the next one, located a little bit lower in the zone. Then, in the seventh, it was Podsednik's turn to go to work.
With the game tied at 3 and two outs, Podsednik reached base on an infield hit off of Holland. It looked as if Holland had picked off Podsednik to end the inning, but first-base umpire Greg Gibson ruled the move a balk and allowed Podsednik to move to second. Podsednik then came home on Getz's first career triple, a blast to right-center.
Guillen spoke after the game as to how he told bench coach Joey Cora that there was a palpable feeling of excitement in the dugout brought about by Podsednik's return. That excitement comes, in part, from what Podsednik meant to the most special season in franchise history, but in the present, it stems from the speed element he presents to the White Sox offense.
For Podsednik, the mindset was contributing in some way and "getting out there and running around."
"I felt pretty good. I felt relatively comfortable," Podsednik said. "The battle is going out and trying not to press and trying not to think I have to do too much. That's the fight."
"He put life in the clubhouse and the dugout," said Guillen of Podsednik. "He had a couple of nice hits, and that's why we [brought] him here. Keep guys loose and play the game the way he should play. Hopefully, he can keep it going."
Buehrle was the beneficiary of the rally in the sixth and seventh innings. The veteran exited after just six innings and 81 pitches, giving up the three runs on seven hits, while striking out two. Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks (sixth save) closed out Buehrle's fourth win without a loss.
Upon hearing Buehrle had started 4-0 for the second time in his career and first time since 2002, Guillen expressed comical shock concerning his ace hurler's success.
"How? What? That's a pretty ugly 4-0," said Guillen with a laugh. "Since I've been managing, Buehrle never changes. You don't know if he won or lost because he's always the same. He can be 8-0 or 0-8, and he's the same guy. But Buehrle did a tremendous job."
"There were some bad pitches I made early," Buehrle said. "But when you get down early, you have to hold them close to let the offense come back."
In a roundabout way, Buehrle's contributions came from more than just the mound on this night. Back at the end of Spring Training, Podsednik connected for two hits off of Buehrle during a Cactus League contest.
As they were leaving the field at the end of an inning, Buehrle stopped Podsednik to talk briefly, at which point Podsednik told Buehrle that he had been released by the Rockies. Podsednik contacted Buehrle shortly thereafter to get the cell phone number of White Sox general manager Ken Williams and/or assistant general manager Rick Hahn.
"I gave his number to Kenny and things happened from there," said Buehrle with a smile. "We are glad to have him back."
Of course, the same can be said for a healthy Thome and Getz.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less