Buehrle to make a stress-free return

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox fans who still hold Mark Buehrle in the highest regard won’t have a conflict of interest this week.

Buehrle returns to U.S. Cellular Field beginning Monday with the Toronto Blue Jays, but won’t be pitching against his former team in the three-game series. The veteran left-hander went a solid seven innings for the Blue Jays on Saturday, in a game that ultimately lasted 18 innings.

Buehrle left the White Sox as a free agent after the 2011 season, pitching for the Miami Marlins last season. He was traded this winter to the Blue Jays.

While the series will mark his return to his former ballpark, he has pitched against the White Sox this season. Buehrle gave up two runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings on April 15 to earn his first victory with the Blue Jays.

That matchup was more of an out-of-body experience for Buehrle.

“I tried not to take a look at too many guys stepping into the batter's box because I knew I'd start laughing or something bad would happen,” Buehrle told reporters after that outing. “I just tried to focus on the glove, which is not me. Usually I'm out looking around and having fun.”

Hitting against Buehrle was peculiar, to say the least, for captain Paul Konerko.

"I didn't have much fun with it, and I don't think he did, either," Konerko said. "But it was a good game, and he pitched well."

This get-together should be far less awkward, although Buehrle will have a between-start throwing session in the visitor's bullpen beyond the right-field fence instead of the home bullpen in left.

There is also a video tribute planned that will play on the scoreboard in center field at some point early in Monday’s game.

There is no word on whether Buehrle plans to return to his old duties of catching the honorary first pitch before the game.

“Everything he’s done here, the numbers, years and everything else speak for themselves,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s always weird when a guy goes over to another team and comes back. For us, we’ve already seen him. For the fans, it will be a different look for them, especially being in this stadium.”