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In new league, Buehrle still claims Gold Glove

MIAMI -- Switching leagues didn't change Mark Buehrle's ability to field his position.

In fact, when it came to defense, Miami's veteran left-hander was pretty much perfect. Buehrle handled all 47 fielding chances he faced, and his error-free season again resulted in him being named the top defensive pitcher in his league.

On Tuesday night, Buehrle was named the National League's Gold Glove-winning pitcher.

The Gold Glove was the first by a Marlins pitcher, but it certainly wasn't something new for Buehrle.

The 33-year-old has won four straight, including his string from 2009-11 while he was with the White Sox.

"I think the first one and this one probably mean a little bit more than the middle two," Buehrle said. "This is one award that I've always wanted to win. Ever since I made it to the big leagues, I've always taken pride to field my position."

Buehrle is just the third pitcher to win Gold Gloves in each league. He joins Jim Kaat and Bobby Shantz.

With the Phillies in 1976-77, Kaat won two straight. Arguably the greatest fielding pitcher of all time, Kaat also won 14 in a row in the American League from 1962-75.

Shantz won eight Gold Gloves, including a run of four straight with the Yankees (1957-60), as well as with the Pirates and Cardinals.

The Marlins had two Gold Glove nominees, and claimed one of them. Shortstop Jose Reyes was looking for his first top fielding award, but the award went to Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins.

Unlike a number of awards that are voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the Gold Glove winners are selected by managers and coaches. So Buehrle had to impress a new cast of those who pick the award.

He also had to beat out some stiff competition for the top pitcher honor.

The other two finalists were previous Gold Glove winners. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, who won in 2011, and Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo, who picked up the honor in 2010.

"I had to actually beat out Kershaw, [while] having a whole new group of managers voting for you," Buehrle said. "It wasn't like it was handed to you.

"Last year, seeing Kershaw win it, and seeing some the highlights that he's done. The guy is a fantastic athlete."

A knock Buehrle has on the Gold Glove voting is once a player wins for the first time, he tends to just be given the award the following season.

"One thing about the Gold Glove that I'm not too crazy about is I think it gets to a 'who won it last year' kind of thing. They kind of just hand it to that person if you have a decent year," Buehrle said. "One of those two middle years I didn't feel like I fielded my position as well as I could have. I didn't really feel like I earned it or deserved a Gold Glove, and I got it anyways.

"I feel like the Gold Glove gets to where, 'He won it last year, give it to him again.' That's why I think this one means a lot, too, because switching leagues, it wasn't like I had the same managers voting. There were different managers voting on it. I had to go out there and actually do my job to earn it."

With his victory, Buehrle is the first Marlin to win a Gold Glove since Mike Lowell (third base) and Luis Castillo (second base) in 2005. And he's just the fifth player in club history to receive the award.

In all, the Marlins have nine total Gold Gloves. But six of them are from two players. Catcher Charles Johnson had a string of three straight from 1995-97. And Castillo strung together three in a row from 2003-05.

The other Gold Glove winners in club history were first baseman Derrek Lee (2003) and Lowell (2005).

In a difficult season overall for the Marlins, Buehrle came to the team as advertised. The lefty was 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA. He paced the team with 202 1/3 innings.

Buehrle has a string of 12 straight seasons with at least 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings pitched.

When Buehrle signed his four-year, $58 million contract last December, he did so in part to rejoin Ozzie Guillen, his manager in Chicago.

After finishing last in the NL East with a 69-93 record, Guillen was dismissed after one season.

"I'm surprised," Buehrle said. "Obviously, we struggled. I'm guessing there was a lot of stuff that us as players or me as a player didn't pay attention to, I guess, that caused his firing. Obviously, one, we didn't play very good."

The Marlins entered Spring Training feeling they would serious contend for a playoff spot. But the year turned into a string of disappointments.

"The guys the Marlins signed, I felt like we had a good team to go out there and compete," Buehrle said. "That didn't happen."

Miami Marlins, Mark Buehrle