Mark Buehrle made his first visit to U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the other clubhouse on Monday, and so he received the customary video salute in the middle of the first inning:
Hawk Harrelson sounded legitimately choked up, but otherwise, since Buehrle won't pitch for Toronto in this series, it minimized the weirdness. I remember Frank Thomas and Joe Crede homering in their returns, which seemed strange-but-fitting to applaud. More recently, Red Sox fans at Fenway Park were delighted to see Kevin Youkilis stick it to his former team when the White Sox traveled to Boston last year.
White Sox fans didn't have to give Buehrle a standing ovation for either shutting down their team or getting knocked out early. It was all on the Sox's terms, which is nice -- especially since the Sox went on to take the opener.
On Buehrle's side of things, he said he sensed more normalcy than weirdness in coming back to the South Side:
"It feels different," Buehrle said, sitting among the recorders, microphones and cameras in his Blue Jays uniform. "Obviously getting off the plane, a couple of bag handlers said 'Welcome back, Mr. Buehrle.'
"Got in the car, driving home. Stayed out in the suburbs last night. Good to see my family, going out there. Just to be honest, it felt normal. Driving in today, I had some lunch where I usually eat lunch. The only thing that was different was walking in that door, and walk past it to come in here. It's a little different, being on this side. Here I am."
And he reiterated the point he made when he signed with the Miami Marlins in 2011 by saying he figures he'll come back to the Sox at some point in some capacity:
"I think if I came back to baseball, it would be to the White Sox," Buehrle said Monday night upon his return to U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the Blue Jays. "With the (two) kids right now and playing for so long, it's hard to imagine doing anything right away. But if it's something where I can be at home a lot and just kind of talk to people or do some little stuff, then I might."
Jesse Crain extended his scoreless-appearance streak to 26 games with his Houdini act on Monday night. His numbers are nuts ...
... and they put him squarely in the conversation for All-Star consideration. Robin Ventura has a strong concept of leverage when issuing praise:
"I don't know too many guys in the league that are doing better than him," Ventura said. "He comes in for nasty situations. If we're tied or winning, he's in there. He's getting it done. If he doesn't, you'd be shocked. I know you don't get the actual save next to your name but if there's anybody in the league that deserves it, he's been a guy that deserves something. It's a save in our book."
Dayan Viciedo has had a miserable time as of late, entering Monday's game with as many double plays (three) as hits over his last 43 at-bats. Ventura doesn't have many options, so he's playing the Tank through it:
"When he's trying to pull it he can find himself in these little ruts swinging and missing," said Ventura. "If he can kind of get back into that mode where he's up the middle, the other way and just uses his hands a little more, he'll be better. He's young and trying to do too much sometimes and falls into that rut for an extended period."
He did hit a couple of balls to right field to along with a single, which is encouraging. On the other hand, he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, so those categories remain even.
CSN Chicago reviews the otherworldly fog that enveloped both the Cell and Wrigley Field on Monday night with stills and video reaction.
Jose Bautista didn't give us much of a chance to watch his reactions to called strikes, because he was too busy watching his two homers (especailly the second). Hopefully he has one of these tantrums in store before the series is over.
Game length is a big problem for a Boston paper, and Amalie Benjamin asks players why they think games are dragging out. Buehrle plays a prominent role in this one. For example, she compares the speed of a game from 44 years ago with one from today:
It is like watching a current game on 1.5 speed, which makes sense, because the 1969 game, a complete-game win for Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar, took just 2 hours, 21 minutes to play. There are still mound conferences. Trainers still come out to look at hit batsmen. It just all happens faster.
It’s not that the batters stay in the box after every pitch. But they do after some of them. The twitches — where they exist — consist mostly of a few kicks of the dirt, a few swings of the bat. When he walks to the plate, Carl Yastrzemski rubs a little dirt on his palms. That’s all.
"Most of the time, these guys come out to their music and have to stand there and listen to it — I don’t know, get pumped up for some reason," Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle said.