|New arrival Marlon Byrd, who was stuck in a 3-for-43 funk at the plate in Chicago, is hoping to heat up with the Red Sox. (Bob Chwedyk/Associated Press)|
Byrd makes a happy landing in Boston
The Red Sox are 4-10, have lost five straight, and sit in last place in the American League East. But Marlon Byrd was thrilled to walk into the clubhouse at Fenway Park Sunday.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
“From a team standpoint, these guys are ready to win,’’ said Byrd, a 34-year-old outfielder who was obtained Saturday from the Chicago Cubs. “You see the players they’re putting on the field. It’s a good place to come into. I’m a good piece of the puzzle. It’s great for me.’’
With Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) and Carl Crawford (wrist) on the disabled list, the Red Sox were looking to make a trade while giving playing time to Jason Repko in center field.
When Repko hurt his left shoulder making a catch Friday, the need became even greater. So Byrd, who was 3 for 43 with the Cubs, actually represents an upgrade. Had the game against the Yankees not been rained out, he would have started in center field.
“He’s a high-energy guy that I’ve seen play in the past for the Cubs, mainly,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “[He’s] a righthanded hitter who isn’t hitting right now, which is the good news. That means he saved up all his hits for us, as I mentioned to him. That was a good thing for him to do.’’
Byrd is a career .278 hitter over 11 seasons and a solid defender. With the Cubs dumping salary and remodeling their organization under Theo Epstein, Byrd expected to be traded.
But the timing surprised him.
“Especially with me having three hits on the year, I didn’t think I’d be coming to a team that has a chance to win. I thought they’d wait for me to start heating up a little bit,’’ Byrd said.
The Sox traded righthander Michael Bowden and a player to be named for Byrd and cash.
“It was a fit,’’ Byrd said. “I’m going to come here and help them any way they need. Hopefully, I can hold down the fort for them until [Ellsbury] is ready to get back and go from there.’’
Byrd feels like he’s swinging the bat better of late and the results will start to show.
“It’s one of those things you play for a while, you know it’s going to come. You can’t change too much,’’ he said.
When Byrd was last at Fenway, it was one of the toughest days in his career. That was last May 21 when he was hit in the left eye by a fastball from Alfredo Aceves. He was out until July 2 and has hit .230 since.
But Byrd said the beaning did not affect him mentally.
“You get hit, you wonder if it’s going to bother you, if you’re going to have some thoughts every time you get in the batter’s box. And I didn’t. I haven’t yet. I haven’t had a ball thrown at my head yet, at the same time,’’ he said.
“Maybe it’ll come back to me when I step in the batter’s box [at Fenway] and get that feel.’’
Byrd said Aceves apologized at the time and he accepted it. He does not believe there was any malicious intent.
Byrd acknowledged it seemed strange to get traded to the Red Sox. But he was happy about it.
“Things happen for a reason,’’ he said. “They didn’t want Jacoby getting hurt but there’s a reason that I’m over here. And while I am over here, I’m going to make sure I do everything I can. Bring my energy, play hard, play my defense, hopefully get some big hits and just get this team back on the right track.’’
No makeup date
The Red Sox called the game about 4 1/2 hours before the first pitch. Heavy rain left them little choice. No makeup date was announced. The Yankees return to Fenway July 6-8 and Sept. 11-13. The teams have mutual off days on July 5 and Sept. 10.
Anderson gets the call
The Red Sox put Repko on the 15-day disabled list and called up Lars Anderson from Triple A Pawtucket.
“We feel [Repko] is at least five days away from really helping us and we’re not going to play short,’’ Valentine said.
Anderson, 24, was hitting .255 with a .758 OPS and one home run at Pawtucket. A first baseman throughout his career, he played a few games in left field in spring training and four so far for the PawSox.
“He’s here in case I want to use him in the outfield. Maybe as a pinch hitter,’’ Valentine said.
Anderson is 7 of 40 in 24 major league games in 2010 and 2011. The Sox had Anderson traded to Oakland for righthander Rich Harden last July before the deal was called off because of concerns about Harden’s health.
Unlikely Bard backer
It’s a big debate in Boston, whether the Sox should use Daniel Bard as a starter or late-inning reliever. Yankees manager Joe Girardi likes what he sees of the righthander as a starter.
“I’ve watched a couple of his starts and he still has the 97s and the 98s,’’ Girardi said. “He still has a good breaking ball and a good changeup. Yeah, I was curious to see him as a starter. But from what I saw, he looked pretty good. His starts have been pretty decent.’’
Does Girardi expect Bard to remain in the Red Sox rotation?
“That’s not my worry,’’ he said. “I worry about our starters and our bullpen. He’s a talented kid, though.’’
Youkilis ready to play
Kevin Youkilis, who left Saturday’s game in the fourth inning with a bruised left quad after being hit by a pitch, was in Sunday’s lineup before the game was called . . . Girardi on the state of the Sox: “It’s not easy, we’ve all been through it and it’s not easy. You know at some point you’re going to get through to the other side, but when you’re going through it, it’s tough.’’