Buehrle enjoys return trip to Chicago

CHICAGO -- Former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle returned to Chicago for the first time since signing a four-year contract with Miami last winter to begin the Marlins’ three-game set at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

The left-handed pitcher had a celebrated career with the Sox that included a perfect game, a no-hitter and a World Series championship.

“I (have) never stayed in a downtown (hotel) here before, but it was good seeing some people and hearing them say, ‘We miss you in town,’” said Buehrle. “I miss a lot of guys on the team because when you play somewhere for 12 years, you get close with guys. There are a lot that you miss (and) a few that you don’t miss.”

Buehrle’s transition to South Florida has been made easier with manager Ozzie Guillen and coach Joey Cora moving to the Marlins as well. (“He hasn’t changed,” Buehrle said, when asked about Guillen.)

The success of his former team has been enjoyable for him to watch from afar.

“It’s really good what they are doing. It has surprised me -- like it has everyone else,” Buehrle said. “I knew they had the talent, guys just hadn’t played well the last couple years, and they are putting it all together right now. I am watching them and rooting them on, I send them text messages all the time, so I am still rooting them on.”

Buehrle said the Sox have a good shot to win the American League Central.

“The Sox need to get (John) Danks and (Gavin) Floyd healthy,” he said. “Detroit is tough and Cleveland has been playing pretty good, so it’s going to be tough to win, but I think they can.”

Buehrle and another Chicago transplant, former Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, have become friendly now that they play on the same side.

“Carlos has been one of the best teammates I have ever played with,” he said. “For all the stuff you have read or seen and leaving the team, I kind of had an open mind when he came in to spring training, but he has been awesome. He has been funny in the dugout, and on plane rides he hasn’t had one rant or one time he looked like he was going to blow up. To me he is the complete opposite (from his Cubs days).”

Buehrle has posted a 9-8 record and 3.13 ERA with the Marlins this season.