Hardened veteran Byrd a perfect fit with Giants
PITTSBURGH -- Marlon Byrd walked into the visitors' clubhouse at PNC Park on Friday afternoon ready to take on a new role with a new team, the Giants, his fifth club in the past three seasons. But it all felt familiar.
It wasn't just because Byrd had spent plenty of time in that clubhouse as a visiting player. It's because Byrd found himself in the same situation two years ago, just on the other side of the ballpark along the Allegheny River.
This is the second time in three years that Byrd has been picked up in late August by a team with its eyes on the postseason. The Pirates acquired him from the Mets in 2013, plugged him in as their right fielder and watched him hit all the way to a National League Division Series appearance.
The Giants struck a deal with the Reds on Thursday, bringing in Byrd to shore up their depleted outfield. He made a strong first impression, going 3-for-5 with a home run and a double in his debut for San Francisco.
"We're excited that he was available. We needed help," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said upon Byrd's arrival. "We lost almost all our outfielders. With his time in the big leagues, he's done some traveling. It makes it a lot easier."
Byrd agreed with that sentiment. The 14-year veteran has played for nine teams. He's been traded five times -- often enough that he temporarily lost count when discussing the latest one Friday afternoon.
"I know what I need to do," Byrd said. "I know I don't need to come over here and be Superman. I just need to play my game and help this team win games."
Byrd made it look easy two years ago. The veteran outfielder hit .318/.357/.486 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 30 games for Pittsburgh.
"It's fun," Byrd said. "This isn't something that I'm nervous doing."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle noticed that about Byrd as soon as he joined the Bucs in 2013, when Pittsburgh snapped a 20-year playoff drought.
"He's a professional player. He's a confident man," Hurdle said. "I think he's at a good point in his career where he loves playing baseball. This is another opportunity for him to reignite."
Byrd's track record aligns well with San Francisco's, as the Giants have seen a number of players successfully navigate the transition into their clubhouse, particularly over the past five years.
The key to incorporating players like that, Bochy said, has as much to do with the team acquiring those players as the players themselves.
In this case, Byrd and the Giants might be a perfect match.
"I think part of it is the guys on your club making these guys comfortable. That's the major part," Bochy said. "The second part is the guys coming over. Is he comfortable? Marlon's had experience with this.
"Now he's in a pennant race. Any player is going to be excited about that. That helps us out."