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Mets give outfielder Byrd shot at making roster

NEW YORK -- The Mets added another name to their outfield mix Friday, signing veteran Marlon Byrd to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Byrd, 35, a right-handed hitter with ample center-field experience, should compete with Andrew Brown for the fifth outfielder's job. The Mets have three left-handed starting outfielders in Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter and a capable righty-hitting bench player in Collin Cowgill.

Byrd hit .210 with one home run and nine RBIs last season in 47 games for the Cubs and Red Sox. He served a 50-game suspension in June after testing positive for tamoxifen, a medicine designed to block the effects of estrogen in the body.

"I made an inexcusable mistake," Byrd said at the time, claiming the medicine was for a medical condition unrelated to baseball. "I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season."

An extremely productive offensive player for the Rangers late last decade, Byrd hit .295 with 40 homers, 20 stolen bases and an .820 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) from 2007-09, playing most of his defensive innings in center field. He is an 11-year veteran of the Phillies, Nationals, Rangers, Cubs and Red Sox.

With the addition of Byrd, the Mets may be done adding outfielders -- assuming no 11th-hour change of circumstances regarding free agent Michael Bourn, who would cost them their first-round Draft pick to sign. Any addition other than Bourn would likely be on a Minor League deal.

General manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that he "can speculate the outfield won't be a strength for us this year."

New York Mets, Marlon Byrd