- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Mark Buehrle is so happy to be wearing a Toronto Blue Jays' cap now that he says he's had no trouble ignoring the public-relations campaign the owner of his former team unfurled this week.
Asked Friday if he'd seen or heard the words of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who spent three days attempting to explain his team's offseason to what's left of its fan base, Buehrle quickly shook his head.
"I saw some of it and pretty much didn't pay attention to it," the 33-year-old left-hander told ESPN.com, "because I know what I was told and I saw what he was saying, and they weren't the same thing. So I mean, I guess he's got to do what he's got to do to get the fans back. But whatever."
It was only 15 months ago when Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million contract, thinking he was heading for Miami to play for his old manager, Ozzie Guillen, and finish out his career as a Marlin.
Needless to say, that isn't how it worked out.
Buehrle is well-aware of the comments made by Jose Reyes, who also signed with the Marlins and was traded away to Toronto this winter. Reyes complained this spring about broken promises made by the Marlins and said that just days before he was traded, Loria was telling him to buy a nice house in South Florida. (Loria denied that account this week.)
"I think that's the biggest thing. I was told the same stuff," Buehrle said. "I was the unlucky one who actually bought a house, thinking I was going to be there and use it as a retirement house. But hey, we took the risk. We took the chance of not getting a no-trade clause. So I always thought that possibility was there.
"But I never thought it would happen that quick. The last year of your deal, maybe, if your team hasn't gone anywhere and they're trying to get prospects -- OK, I can see that. But the first year? I don't think anybody could have seen that coming."
Now that the shock and anger have begun to fade from the offseason trade that sent him to Toronto, Buehrle keeps going out of his way to praise his new team and the way it's treated him and his family. Every once in a while, though, his feelings toward his former team seem to seep out, whether he wants them to or not.
"This has been a class organization, top to bottom, in the way they treat people," he said Friday, after allowing one run on three hits in a two-inning outing against Tampa Bay. "The way they do things here, it's definitely something that was missed, for one year of my career. But I've been fortunate to have an organization pretty much my whole career that's been like this. So for me, that's over."
Buehrle spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Chicago White Sox before spending a year in Miami that he says ranks "up there" among the longest seasons of his life. He turns 34 this month and has three years left on his contract. So before he's through, he quipped Friday, he'd like to "win a Cy Young and strike out 80 guys a year."
But realistically, he admitted, "I don't think that's anything that's in my future." So what he'd really like to do is win another World Series, this time in Toronto, eight years after winning one with the White Sox.
"With guys that haven't been there before, I try to explain to them as much as I can the feeling and the excitement and everything that comes with it," he said. "But until you're actually there, it's kind of hard to explain. But I'd just like to get back to the World Series. It was an awesome feeling and experience."
His other goal, he said, is to pitch his standard 200 innings this year. His streak of 12 straight 200-inning seasons is the longest by any left-handed starter since Steve Carlton ran off 13 in a row from 1968-80. And the only right-handed pitcher in the last 30 years with a streak this long is Greg Maddux, who topped 200 innings in 14 straight seasons from 1988-2001.
But Buehrle laughingly dismissed talk that he's a throwback to a different era, saying: "Nah, 200 innings would be like 100 back in the day. To those guys, their 500 or 600 is (like) 200 now."
Asked if he'd thought of setting a goal of throwing 500 or 600 innings, he said jokingly: "Yeah -- in four years maybe, but not one."
33mTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
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