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Mark Buehrle appears to be through with White Sox

Mark Buehrle probably has pitched his last game for Sox unless something unforeseen happens. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Mark Buehrle probably has pitched his last game for the Sox unless something unforeseen happens. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 8, 2012 10:32AM

DALLAS — White Sox general manager Ken Williams spoke with free agent Mark Buehrle last week and told him how much he’s appreciated in Chicago.

He probably said goodbye, too.

And with it perhaps the hope of playing in the postseason.

After discussing the somewhat-surprising trade of closer Sergio Santos and characterizing the Sox’ plan for 2012 as a rebuilding phase, Williams had this to say of Buehrle: “I hear he’s a very popular man, and he’s going to be richer than he is.’’

And the chances of a return to the South Side for the popular left-hander, who’s expected to receive at least a three-year deal at about $14 million per season from one of his many suitors at these winter meetings?

“It’s possible. It’s possible,’’ Williams said with little enthusiasm. “Mark and I had a good conversation last week. . . . At this point, it’s strictly finances over the desire not to have him.’’

We don’t know who can catch the ceremonial first pitch anymore.

“It’s not often a guy can accomplish all the things he did and be able to humble himself the way he did and have fun with things,’’ Williams said. ‘‘So he’ll be missed unless something happens that is unforeseen right now.’’

Talking to national media two hours later, new manager Robin Ventura was asked if the Sox could still be a playoff-caliber team.

“I mean, logically, you’re looking at it, when you’re moving pieces, you’re losing a Buehrle, you’re probably saying no,’’ Ventura said. “Is it possible? Yeah. Anything’s possible. But by the retooling that you’re doing, you are looking for the future, you’re guarding that future.’’

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