Buehrle likely to fill No. 3 spot

Buehrle likely to fill No. 3 spot

TUCSON, Ariz. -- With the impressive way Mark Buehrle threw the ball on the side Saturday morning, Ozzie Guillen might want to re-think his choice for the White Sox 2007 Opening Day starter.

But as Spring Training officially began for his team at the Kino Sports Complex, Guillen held to his original idea of using Jose Contreras on April 2 against the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field. The selection of Contreras ends Buehrle's run of five straight years as the first White Sox hurler to the mound, but it's a rotation alteration that doesn't bother the left-hander.

"I think you got an argument for both him and [Jon Garland]," said Buehrle of the Opening Day honor. "I'm just happy to be here, happy to be in a White Sox uniform.

"If they want me to start Day 1, Day 5, I'll be ready," Buehrle added.

Guillen laid out his plan Saturday to use Garland as his second starter and put Buehrle into the third spot of the rotation. The drop of Buehrle to No. 3 is aimed at splitting up Garland and Vazquez working in back-to-back starts.

"It's still early, and I think we have a good competition," said Guillen, pointing more toward the battle to fill the rotation's open fifth slot. "The important thing is we have the arms there."

According to comments made by general manager Ken Williams at SoxFest in late January, Gavin Floyd has the early edge to be selected as the final starter from a group of five or six strong young arms. Guillen gave high marks to the way Floyd threw the ball during Saturday's bullpen sessions.

The new acquisition certainly isn't counting on a job before it could become official at the end of March. But he arrived in Tucson ready to compete.

Meanwhile Garland, who is tied with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter for the most wins in the Major Leagues over the past two years, doesn't care where he's slotted, as long as he is part of the club's talented rotation.

"You can call me whatever number you want to call me, as long as I'm out there every fifth day," said Garland, who won 18 games in each of the last two seasons working as the team's fifth and fourth starter, respectively. "I really don't care. As long as I'm out on the mound giving my team a chance to win and competing, I'm happy."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.