ANAHEIM, Calif. - John Danks knows what Mark Buehrle brings to the table as a starting pitcher.
The White Sox left-hander has witnessed first-hand what the veteran lefty offers as a teammate, clubhouse presence and friend.
And he doesn't want to see him go. Danks recalls thinking the same thing about Paul Konerko after Konerko's contract was up after last season. He hoped some how, some way, the Sox front office would bring Konerko back.
"I would say it's similar to the Paulie deal last offseason,'' Danks said Tuesday before Buehrle took the loss in the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 win against the Sox on Peter Bourjos' walk-off single against Jason Frasor in the ninth inning. "If there is any way in the world you can bring him back you kind of have to. I'm not a GM, I don't know all the business of the game, but from a teammate and player's perspective here's a guy you cant afford to let go play in another uniform.''
Buehrle, 32, might go because he'll be an expensive piece in the 2012 puzzle, and the Sox have rookie left-hander Chris Sale waiting in the wings to jump from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Buehrle has been the anchor of the Sox rotation, but Danks himself might be ready to assume that role - that is if the Sox decide to invest in him long term. Danks' contract is up after next season.
Buehrle has some years left as long as he wants to pitch. He's 32.
"He's been the guy since I've been here, the first guy who made me feel comfortable,'' Danks said. "I felt we were pretty close, but if I was doing something wrong he was the first one to tell me about it, too. For lack of a better word he's a true professional You don't stay in this game and have the success he has without being one. He goes about his business the right way.
"We hang out on the road. We go to lunch and stuff. We talk about everything from baseball to whatever. It's good. He's been a guy who has helped me.''
Buehrle has hinted in the past about retiring after the season in order to spend more time with his wife and sons, but lately - along with a streak of allowing three runs or less in 18 starts - he appears to be leaning toward pitching some more.
"He's focused and committed and he's playing for more time, I think,'' Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "I think he wants to continue to play.''
Against the Angels, Buehrle never felt right from the start.
"That's about as bad as it can get and still get a quality start,'' said Buehrle, who gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings. "I think besides the two strikeouts I think every ball they hit was pretty good. I wasn't fooling too many guys out there.
"It was probably one of the worst nights I had as far as everything. It kind of started out in the bullpen but usually you have a bad warmup in the bullpen and you come out and say everything will change. But everything that was in the bullpen I carried it right into the game. I didn't make too many good pitches.''
The Sox fell to 6 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers, the leaders in the American League Central.
"I think [losses] are frustrating because obviously we need to win,'' Buehrle said. "You look up there early and see that Detroit won. We had to win the game just to stay on pace. Obviously we have to come back tomorrow and keep on battling.''
Buehrle may not have had his best stuff but Cooper will take his chances with him on most nights.
"His stuff is not what it was but he's able to pitch and change speeds and he's as steady as he has been,'' Cooper said. "His transition [to pitching with slightly less velocity] looking back was a fairly easy one because he never relied on stuff. He always relied on movement and location. When his stuff is not quite the same he's committed to throwing to the glove and changing speeds.''
And he sticks to the basics of pitching.
"He's always gotten ahead of hitters, got ground balls, fielded his position, held runners and picked guys off,'' Cooper said. "His whole career. All the things you need to do to give your team a chance to win and have a successful career.''
"He's getting guys out without throwing 95,'' Danks said. "II tell him how to throw the invisible fastball. He throws it by people and you see other guys throwing 95 getting hit around.''
Danks said he has no idea what Buehrle will do after the season.
"It's one of those things where you weight your options when the time comes,'' Danks said. "I know he's not worried about it right now.''