Byrd understands skepticism of Phils' newcomers
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies traded Marlon Byrd to the Nationals in 2005, but he made Philadelphia his home from '07-10.
Byrd knows Phillies fans well. He has heard how fans are underwhelmed at the Phils' offseason acquisitions, which not only include himself, but right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Brad Lincoln, catcher Wil Nieves and outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Byrd takes no offense.
"If I was a fan, I think I'd rather have Robinson Cano. I think I'd rather have [Masahiro] Tanaka," Byrd said with a smile Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I want those guys. [Phillies senior VP and general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] went with the guys he thought would help this team.
"And until we get on the field and actually get to show it, the fan base will kind of be looking at this team like, 'Hey, two years of trying to get back to the Promised Land, we need 10 Robinson Canos in this lineup and a whole staff of Tanakas.' I think they'll be happy once we get on the field and we start producing."
Byrd hit a combined .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs last season with the Mets and Pirates. Fans normally might be enthused at the thought of somebody like that hitting behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But following a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in 2012, some wonder if Byrd can replicate those numbers at 36.
Those skeptics wonder how real those numbers are.
Once again, Byrd takes no offense.
"Everything [from] last year until I retire will be looked at that way, because I did test positive," he said. "The guys that don't like talking about it are the ones that were trying to cheat or trying to beat the system. I wasn't. I was stupid. I took something. I didn't do my due diligence. It's as simple as that, so it's easy for me to talk about it because I have nothing to hide."
Byrd said he is excited to rejoin the organization, which selected him in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He has remained close to Howard and Jimmy Rollins, both of whom served as groomsmen at his wedding.
"I was so excited when they were making their run, going through the playoffs," Byrd said. "I was coming to games. I was waving my towel like a fan and everything. I absolutely loved it."
Byrd shared a story about how he texted Rollins during the 2008 World Series to tell him how Rays pitcher Matt Garza tipped his pitches. Coincidentally or not, Rollins went 2-for-3 with a run scored against Garza in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies won, 5-4.
"I felt like a scout," Byrd said.