Paul Byrd, living the dream
|10.07.09 at 8:57 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — At 38-years-old, and after 14 seasons in the major leagues, Paul Byrd has a self-annointed new title. Two, in fact.
“I may be the ‘Comeback Postseason Roster Player of the Year’,” he said. “Is there a vote for that?”
“‘The Least Likely Player To Make the Postseason Roster’, Paul Byrd,” the pitcher added. “I would wear that with pride.”
However you want to classify the latest stop in Byrd’s 2009 journey, it has to be classified as certainly out of the ordinary. Wednesday afternoon Red Sox manager Terry Francona ventured out into the outfield during his team’s batting practice at Angels Stadium and told the hurler that he had made the postseason roster.
This after a year in which he didn’t even re-join the ranks of professional baseball player until August.
“People say I’m living the dream,” he said, “but I really am.”
Byrd was deemed to be the best fit for one of the final roster spots because of Manny Delcarment’s uncertain physical status following a car accident, Saturday afternoon, and the potential need for a long man to back up the Red Sox’ starters in the American League Division Series.
“It’s crazy,” Byrd said. “I know my ERA is higher than I want it to be. I had a game in Chicago that was a disaster, and Kansas City didn’t go like I wanted it to. But overall I feel like I’m throwing the ball well and I can bring something to the table at some point, whether it’s eight innings or whether we get in a jam and run out of pitchers. Or whether it’s a tie ballgame and you get somebody feeling like you’re feeling the ball well. Without trying to sound too much of a cliche, I want to help anyway I can.
“For me my whole goal was to come back and help the team. I’m playing for all the right reasons. I want a ring. I want to help the team. And that’s it. Without trying to sound like a preacher, I’ve prayed a lot about this and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to come back and do this. Who takes the amount of time off, is throwing to the kids and not necessarily training to come back and then gets the chance and is here.
“I’m very blessed right now. Who cares what my ERA is. I’m able to help somebody out, I have a chance to win a ring and I’m in a great situation. If called on I don’t know what I’ll give you, but I’ll give you everything I have and I’ll fight as hard as I can and I really believe I can do the job. The reason I say that is my stuff is there and I just feel like I had a bad game in Chicago but I felt my other ones were good. They may not have gone the way I would have liked them to go, but I feel like I’m throwing the ball well.”
Byrd, who finished with a 5.82 ERA in seven games, pitched out of the bullpen for the first time in eight years, last Saturday. He seemingly already ingratiated himself into the Sox’ bullpen’s community, engaging in a deep baseball discussion with Billy Wagner and Daniel Bard well after the Sox’ workout was complete.
Then there was the matter of calling his wife, Kym.
“She was really excited for me. It’s kind of neat,” he said. “Everybody keeps asking, people in my family, friends call, ‘Did you make it? Did you make it?’ I’m not going to say anything. I don’t think they knew because they had a lot of different options and a lot of different ways they could go, and there’s different ways they can go for the next series and the series after that. Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. I’m on the roster for this series, I’m having fun, and I’m extremely blessed.”
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