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For Byrd, a happy return to Boston

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 22, 2012 09:01 PM

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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 on Sunday.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

“From a team standpoint, these guys are ready to win. You see the players they’re putting on the field. It’s a good place to come into,” said Byrd, a 34-year-old outfielder who was obtained from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. “I’m a good piece of the puzzle. It’s great for me."

With Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford 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. “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.

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.

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 whenever 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.

See tomorrow's Globe for more on Byrd.

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