Buehrle Leaning Towards Playing After 2011 Season

Mark Buehrle's contract with the White Sox is up after this season, and two years ago, the southpaw discussed the possibility of retiring once his obligations to the Sox were complete.  Now, however, Buehrle tells CSNChicago.com's Chuck Garfien that "the percentage is going down" that the left-hander will walk away from the game after 2011.

After a talk with his wife in the offseason, Buehrle said he intends to pursue another contract for 2012 and beyond.  He noted, however, that unless the situation is ideal for him, he actually will retire.

If the White Sox don’t want to sign me back after this year and some team (wants me) that I’m not a fan of, or don’t want to play for, or it’s too far from home, I’m not going to go play just to make money," Buehrle said.  "It’s going to have to be the right spot, the right fit for my family.” 

Buehrle said he wants to play for a winning team and he already has in mind a few clubs that would play for and others that he "will not go to no matter how much money or what the situation is.”  The Cardinals are on the former list (Buehrle, a Missouri native, has spoken in the past about his dream to join the Cards) and he stops just short of saying that the Cubs are on his "no chance" list.

His first choice is to continue pitching for the White Sox, though Buehrle isn't sure if the feeling is mutual.  “I don’t know what the team has moneywise for the next couple years," Buehrle said.  "There’s a lot of factors. They might have someone else up and coming and they don’t even want me back. I’m open to whatever."

Since his initial mention of retirement two years ago, Buehrle has delivered a solid 4.06 ERA and 2.17 K/BB ratio in 66 starts, authored a perfect game against Tampa Bay in 2009 and won two Gold Gloves.  The left-hander is still young (he turns 32 next month) so if he does choose to keep pitching, there will no shortage of teams interested in his services.  Looking at the list of 2012 free agents, Buehrle would arguably be the top free agent pitcher on the market unless C.C. Sabathia opts out of his contract or St. Louis doesn't pick up Chris Carpenter's option.

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