Mark Buehrle: Chances better on A.J.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle said Tuesday that he wouldn't be surprised to see A.J. Pierzynski return to the team in 2011.

Paul Konerko, on the other hand, he isn't so sure about.

Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday after winning his second consecutive Gold Glove Award, Buehrle was asked his thoughts on how the offseason might play out with Pierzynski and Konerko testing the open market as free agents.

"My feeling is that A.J. has a better chance than Konerko [to return]," Buehrle said. "I don't know. It's just from talking to Konerko and hearing the stuff he said. I don't know what the deal is with other teams offering money and a better situation for his family. I just feel that A.J. has a better chance of coming back. I'd love to have both back. They have been the core of this team."

Buehrle said he has stayed in contact with teammates this offseason mostly through text messages and admitted that not many of those conversations had anything to do with baseball.

Konerko, who has played with the White Sox for 12 seasons, and Pierzynski, who has been with the club for six, are both free to explore deals with any team after their exclusive negotiating period with the White Sox expired Saturday.

Konerko said before the season ended that he planned on exploring all of his options and that his family, based in Arizona, would play a big role in where he plays next season. But he added that he hasn't ruled out returning to the White Sox.

Pierzynski, though, would be more affordable to retain and would help to give the lineup balance since he bats from the left side. The team also does not have an obvious replacement for him at catcher.

No matter if one or both of them leave, Buehrle said it will be strange to see.

"[Konerko's] been the captain, the face of this organization and has been here longer than I have," Buehrle said. "For him to not be part of this organization would be [different]. You've seen guys like [Jim] Thome and [Joe] Crede go other places, but to see [Konerko and Pierzynski] in another uniform next year will be weird."

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.