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Even-keeled Buehrle regular guy amid success

Lefty resonated with fan base from Day 1, will have number retired by White Sox on Saturday
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- It was a Friday night in September 2008, with the White Sox playing at Kauffman Stadium. Or at least that's how I remember it.

I was working ahead for an off-day story, and I needed another educated voice in the article. Enter Mark Buehrle, who was sitting at his locker with a personal computer on his lap. I asked him for a few minutes, and he agreed -- but with a strange look on his face.

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CHICAGO -- It was a Friday night in September 2008, with the White Sox playing at Kauffman Stadium. Or at least that's how I remember it.

I was working ahead for an off-day story, and I needed another educated voice in the article. Enter Mark Buehrle, who was sitting at his locker with a personal computer on his lap. I asked him for a few minutes, and he agreed -- but with a strange look on his face.

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Buehrle has talked about not having a love for interviews, but he was always a good quote and always amenable unless he had work to do. As he answered my first question, I started thinking of the White Sox rotation.

Suddenly, I realized where that weird look came from: Buehrle was pitching in that night's game. It's an understood rule that starting pitchers don't do interviews on gameday until after they've pitched. There are a few starters I've covered who didn't even like talking the day before.

After I quickly and profusely apologized, a smiling Buehrle told me to continue with the questions. He eventually earned the victory over the Royals with a quality start, and as we gathered around him for a postgame interview, he smiled again, looked at me and said, "Man, are you lucky."

This tale paints a small picture of Buehrle's value as one of the most even-keeled All-Stars I've covered, and after Saturday, one of the most even-keeled players with his jersey number retired by the White Sox. During Spring Training, Buehrle would joke with us about talking before a start instead of after because he was going to say the same thing: "Got my work in, felt good." In reality, he was regular-season ready in Arizona after one or two trips to the mound.

Buehrle never wanted to become a pitching coach because he said it was tough to show other pitchers how he threw certain pitches, but countless hurlers -- make that countless players -- learned simply by watching or being around him.

"He was one of the best teammates that I ever had," White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera said through interpreter Billy Russo. Cabrera played with Buehrle in Toronto from 2013-14. "When he was on the mound, he always wanted to pitch until the end of the game.

"When he was on the bench, he was cheering for you. He was supporting you. He's a really funny guy. For me, he was one of the best lefties in the game during his time."

Tom Glavine won his 300th game in August 2007, and I remember asking Buehrle about getting to that mark because he was on the same pace at that point. Buehrle said it would not be him, as he didn't want to miss important family time to pursue that total.

Trappings of fame never mattered to the veteran, who once got in trouble for tarp diving during a rain delay and attributed a skipped Spring Training start to that rare bout of Dutch elm disease in his left shoulder. Buehrle was and is a regular guy, a blue collar and unwaveringly steady performer, resonating with the White Sox fan base from Day 1.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox