Buehrle comfortable after long hiatus
Nine-day layoff doesn't bother Chicago ace in five-inning stint
PHOENIX -- Mark Buehrle's outing against the Dodgers came to a thunderous but successful halt on Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, when Jerry Owens crashed into the left-center-field wall to take away extra bases from Andre Ethier and end the fifth inning.
The final out didn't seem to matter for the White Sox left-handed ace, who was happy to be back on the mound after a nine-day absence.
"That's what I said before when I was skipped," said Buehrle, who gave way to Nick Masset for last Saturday's start at home against the Cubs in order to help manage his spring workload.
"I don't like sitting around for four or five days off, so getting nine or 10 is a little bit longer than I like to go," Buehrle added. "But they did it for a reason."
The Dodgers managed just one run on five hits over five innings against Buehrle, who struck out five and walked two. Buehrle hopes to go six or seven innings in his next start against the Rockies, marking his last trip to the mound before his sixth Opening Day appearance.
"Today was one of those days where I felt like I could go at least another inning or two," Buehrle said. "I didn't feel tired or fatigued going five. It felt real good."
While Buehrle was working against the Dodgers, Jose Contreras pitched three innings during a Minor League game back in Tucson, Ariz. The big right-hander yielded two runs and struck out three after missing Wednesday's start due to the flu.
"Jose will get back on his regular turn four days from now," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. "It was important for him not to miss completely this whole turn. I really wanted to make sure he kept throwing, kept his strength up and moved in a good direction."
Reliever Scott Linebrink, sidelined by a sore back, will join the team on Friday in Scottsdale. Linebrink originally was scheduled to pitch in two games on this three-day trip, but Cooper would like to get Linebrink into one of the two games remaining this weekend. At the very least, Linebrink will throw a side session on Friday.
"There's nothing we can do about stuff like that," Cooper said. "If you wake up and your back is bothering you or you have the flu, there's nothing we can do but get them well."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.