Sox need Byrd to fly high
|08.19.09 at 6:50 pm ET|
There may be veteran help on the horizon in the form of pitching for the Red Sox. No, it might not be Tim Wakefield or even Daisuke Matsuzaka. It’s Paul Byrd.
Byrd will take the mound tonight for the Pawtucket Red Sox after throwing two outings for the Gulf Coast Red Sox in hopes of being ready for Boston by September 1 when rosters expand.
“I think, and this is just me thinking, that I will be need to be ready for September 1,” Byrd said. ”It won’t be profitable for them and they’ll let me go and I understand that. So it’s just a rush job for me getting ready but honestly my arm hasn’t had this much time off without a surgery in forever, so I feel strong. I feel great and ready to go.”
Byrd said he had no indication the Sox were interested in him and had planned on sitting out the rest of the season until the team called in early August.
“I think they got into a situation where some guys got hurt,” Byrd said. “They thought they were getting better but they weren’t sure they were getting better, so I was sort of an insurance policy to see what happens and see if I could get out there on time and see if I still had what it took.”
Byrd pitched last season with the Red Sox after the team acquired him from the Cleveland Indians on August 12, after he had cleared waivers. In eight starts with Boston, Byrd went 4-2 over 49 innings, walking 10 and striking out 26 en route to a 4.78 ERA.
He declined the Sox’ offer of arbitration, did not sign with Boston or any other club and instead opted to spend time with his wife and two kids with the idea of joining a team mid-season. Byrd, however, had no takers. Once the Sox determined a need for pitching help, they signed Byrd to a minor league contract on August 5 and sent him to Florida to build up strength and regain his form.
“It was one of those things where I figured I’d sit out and pick up with a team later in the season and it would all work out,” Byrd said “Then I realized I’m not Roger Clemens and the economy messed up some things so people were interested but not real interested. I just kept throwing to my 13-year-old’s baseball team and having fun and then the Red Sox called and asked how quick I could be ready. So, I’m here to find out.”
Byrd pitched two outings in Florida for a combined 7 innings giving up four runs and striking out three. PawSox manager Ron Johnson expects Byrd to pitch five to six innings or 75 to 80 pitches tonight against the Rochester Red Wings.
“My body is a little behind my arm’s conditioning a little bit,” the righthander said. “I’ve been working out. I’ve been doing some conditioning, not to the same intensity level that you do when you’re playing but most people are a little run down in September. I feel pretty darn good.”
A fresh veteran arm with playoff experience could be a welcome sight for the Sox in September as they fight for a playoff spot. The Sox face a tough schedule next month with two series against the Rays, and one each against the White Sox, Yankees and Angels. Somewhat surprisingly, Byrd may swoop in to become one piece of the puzzle missing for the Sox.
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