By: David Schuster-

In a dismal-filled baseball season for the White Sox, the ovation that Mark Buehrle received when he came off the field Tuesday night had to be the highlight.

Actually, even before Buehrle exited the scene, it was emotional as he, and he alone, went out on the field to start the eighth inning. Then interim manager Don Cooper came out and gave Buehrle a huge hug — you could feel the warmth between the two. Buehrle then started to walk off the field, and one by one his teammates all embraced him before the fans gave him yet another ovation.

Buehrle stayed in the dugout for a few minutes but was called back onto the field for one more curtain call.

The reason for all the applause is pretty simple: This very well could have been — and likely is — Buehrle’s last appearance in a White Sox uniform. The veteran left-hander’s contract is up, and the Sox will think long and hard about committing big bucks to a pitcher who is near the end of his career.

Money will obviously have a lot to do with it, and even general manager Kenny Williams admitted that Buehrle will have to get free-agent offers before the Sox respond. For his part after the game, Buehrle finally admitted that he will probably look for a two- or three-year deal and he very well could get $30 million or more over three years from somebody. If Chris Carpenter can get $36 million over three years at 36-years-old, Buehrle will get something comparable.

So we’ll just have to sit back and wait and see what the Sox want to do. Buehrle said he wants to come back,  and this is the only team he has ever known, but the likelihood is that he will be in a different uniform next season.

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