Notes: Buehrle mentors teammates
Veteran lefty enjoys taking others under his wing
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Anyone who has grown to know Mark Buehrle's personality over his seven years as a Major Leaguer understands the ace southpaw is a fierce competitor on the field but likes to have his fair share of fun away from the mound.
Check out tape of Buehrle's now banned rain delay tarp dives as examples of the latter. But it's not in Buehrle's persona to have that fun at the detrimental expense of his teammates -- especially the young ones learning the ropes. This attitude explains, in part, Buehrle's great assistance and friendship provided to young lefties such as John Danks and Gio Gonzalez during the current Spring Training.
But if Buehrle had even a remote thought of putting his young teammates through the typical or atypical rookie hazing, an experience from his first year in the big leagues quickly brings a halt to that sort of idea.
"James Baldwin got on us when we were rookies, me and [Jon] Garland," said a very candid Buehrle of his teammate during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. "There are a lot of things I would like to do to that guy, and I kind of almost lost respect for him.
"You understand when you are a rookie, you have to have stuff done to you. But some guys take it overboard and do way too much stuff. There was so much stuff, I remember that it got annoying."
So, Buehrle has taken the exact opposite approach in the clubhouse and off the field, and the same can be said for Garland. For example, both Buehrle and Garland took Danks golfing after Monday morning's workout, with Danks being amazed at how accessible and helpful the veterans are within his new team -- from social encounters to Buehrle showing Danks a few tricks from one of the Majors' best pickoff moves.
The same theory holds true for classy veteran position players such as Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and Joe Crede, to name a few, who are there to lend a helping hand to their younger comrades. But Buehrle has made a special effort to never let past history repeat itself.
"From the way I felt with J.B. picking on us, I couldn't do that to anyone else," Buehrle said. "Like when Boone Logan came up here last year, I looked over and he was sitting by himself. I walked over and said, 'If you have any questions on where you need to be or what you need to do, if I know, I'll help you out.'
"I'm not going to screw anyone over or lead them in the wrong direction. I know the way I felt my first year in the locker room. You feel lost and you don't know where you are supposed to be. So, if these guys have any questions, I want them to come up and ask me."
Day to day: When Gavin Floyd was first asked Tuesday about the condition of his sprained right ankle, he immediately said it felt 100 percent better. The right-hander paused for a beat and then changed his answer slightly.
"Well, not 100 percent, but 75 percent better," said Floyd with a smile.
Floyd, who is considered the early frontrunner to claim the fifth starter's spot, twisted his right ankle via a freak pitching accident during his first inning of work in Monday's intrasquad game. He actually twisted his ankle after he already had landed and the pitch was delivered.
The White Sox pitching grid has Floyd throwing a side session on Wednesday and then making his first Cactus League appearance Friday, following Jose Contreras to the mound. Floyd will wait to get clearance from White Sox athletic trainer Herm Schneider before he starts throwing, and understands his Friday appearance could get pushed back one or two days.
At this point, Floyd is just happy that the injury was far more benign than he first imagined.
"I was just concerned because it didn't feel very good when I did it," Floyd said. "My first reaction was, 'Can I walk on it?' Then I started walking on it so I knew it must not be that bad. It feels great. I have a lot of mobility."
"He doesn't need anything except to be checked by the doctor," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added. "If he does stuff to tolerate the pain, he will pitch. If not, we'll push him back until he's ready to perform."
Foot in the door: If Jerry Owens gets brought up in conversation, it's almost certain that the outfielder's great speed will be the first and possibly only order of business. But while Owens realizes his great speed is what could earn him a roster spot, he's out to prove there's more to his game than just a quick pair of wheels.
"It's nice that my speed gets me in the door," said Owens, who enters Cactus League play in the mix for one of the final roster spots. "I like to show people I can do other things.
"Speed is a luxury and a blessing. But I'm an all-around player. I can play defense. I can hit. I want to prove all that to be true."
Owens swiped 40 bases for Triple-A Charlotte last year, but also drove in 48. He batted .331 during the 2005 campaign with Double-A Birmingham.
Sign on the dotted line: The White Sox agreed to terms on one-year contracts with 21 players, it was announced Tuesday. That list includes closer Bobby Jenks, who agreed to a $450,000 deal that was tops among these players, and fellow relievers David Aardsma, Nick Masset, Andrew Sisco, Matt Thornton and Boone Logan. Starting pitchers Floyd and Charlie Haeger, and position players such as Owens, Josh Fields, Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney also were part of this group. The team has no remaining unsigned players in camp.
Around the horn: Scott Podsednik reported continued pain-free workouts and added he's been doing some "'S' running and arc running." The next step is plant and cutting, followed by actual baserunning. ... Guillen will use what could be his Opening Day, regular-season starting lineup Wednesday in the Cactus League opener against Colorado, with Darin Erstad leading off and playing left and Brian Anderson hitting eighth and playing center. ... Buehrle and Garland had a little fun during defensive drills, mimicking each other's style on the mound. They went as far as to field grounders with their opposite hand for comic effect during one final rotation.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.