The White Sox can't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. Chicago will face off against former ace Mark Buehrle for the first time Monday, a game that may be surreal for the White Sox and their fans. Buehrle helped win a World Series and threw a perfect game while in Chicago, but now he's part of the Blue Jays.
Buehrle was drafted by the White Sox back in 1998, and he made his big league debut in 2000. The left-hander went to the All-Star Game and won 161 games in 12 seasons with the White Sox, but he signed with the Marlins as a free agent in 2012 and was traded to Toronto last winter.
Now, struggling through two starts with his new team, Buehrle gets a look at his old one. Paul Konerko, Chicago's captain, said he's looking forward to squaring off against his longtime teammate.
"It's the first time," Konerko said of hitting off Buehrle. "I don't think I've ever faced him. Maybe once in an intrasquad game. You know, it will be interesting. It will be fun. Hopefully we should know how he pitches."
"A lot of the guys know him," said manager Robin Ventura, an ex-teammate of Buehrle's. "You want to win. You respect what he's done and what he meant to this organization. But you definitely want to win the game."
Monday will be Jackie Robinson Day in Toronto, the day that Major League Baseball annually sets aside to honor the trailblazing hero of sports and society. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
The White Sox will start Gavin Floyd in Monday's opener, and both teams will be looking to find their footing. The Blue Jays lost Jose Reyes to an ankle injury, but took two out of three from Kansas City over the weekend, while the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak with a victory over Cleveland Sunday.
Buehrle has been knocked around twice this season, and he's yet to complete six innings in either of his starts. The southpaw pitched into the fifth and allowed five earned runs against the Tigers in his last start. But Buehrle is that rare pitcher, said Konerko, who makes his teammates better on his days off.
"One of the best teammates I've had," said Konerko. "One of those guys that kind of rallies the whole team. As a starting pitcher, sometimes you only see those guys on the days they pitch. They are there but they are not totally involved with everything going on with the team all the time. It's kind of the nature of that job."
White Sox: Konerko chases Big Hurt
Konerko started slow in his first 10 games, but he drilled a two-run home run to give the White Sox a lead in the sixth inning on Sunday. Konerko, who has been with the White Sox since the 1999 season, needs 31 more home runs to tie ex-slugger Frank Thomas (448) for the club's all-time franchise record.
And it could happen. Konerko, 37 years old, hit 39 home runs in 2010 and 31 more dingers in '11 before backtracking to 26 last season. The veteran has thrived since his 30th birthday, batting .286 with 213 home runs and 650 RBIs in 1,029 games. Konerko has been named an All-Star four times in the last seven seasons.
Blue Jays: Looking for alternatives
The Blue Jays replaced Reyes in the leadoff slot with Emilio Bonifacio on Sunday, and Munenori Kawasaki made his second start for Toronto at shortstop. Kawasaki, a 31-year-old veteran of Japan's Pacific League, played sparingly for the Mariners last year before landing with Toronto as a free agent.
Kawasaki went 1-for-2 and reached on a walk on Sunday, and he also reached base safely and scored in his debut on Saturday night. Kawasaki batted .400 in two games for Triple-A Buffalo before his promotion. Reyes is expected to be out for up to three months while recovering from his severely sprained left ankle.
•The White Sox continue their 10-game road trip with four games at Rogers Centre.
• The White Sox put Angel Sanchez on the disabled list with a back injury Sunday and purchased Tyler Greene's contract from Triple-A Charlotte.
• The Blue Jays have played two consecutive one-run games.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.