Veteran Byrd looks to remain productive with Reds
Newly acquired outfielder hopes to cut down strikeouts in first season with Cincinnati
WESTPORT, Conn. -- Despite turning 37 this past season, new Reds left-field acquisition Marlon Byrd achieved some career high-water marks in 2014.
Byrd played 154 games and hit 25 home runs for the Phillies -- both career highs. His 85 RBIs were four shy of his career best.
"The reason I'm doing that is because of changes I've made as far as my training, changes I've made as far as my diet, the changes I've made with my swing and knowing the game better," Byrd said shortly after being traded to the Reds from Philadelphia on Wednesday for pitching prospect Ben Lively.
But there was another career-high that did not please Byrd -- his 185 strikeouts. It left him with a bad taste that he's been spending his offseason trying to get over.
"I wasn't really happy with my year last year even though I put up good numbers as far as power and production," said Byrd, who batted .264/.312/.445. "My batting average went down. My strikeouts went up. My walks went down. I need to get some work in. I took a week off from hitting and started hitting the week after the season.
"I changed my stance a little bit. I was a little bit too wide last year, had too much movement. I was susceptible to the pitch up. I believe if you continue to put hard work in the offseason and continue to get better, you can continue to put up good numbers."
Besides his offensive numbers and the opportunity to bring a power hitter to left field, it was Byrd's work ethic that helped attract the Reds to him. Cincinnati tried unsuccessfully to trade for Byrd in 2013 prior to the Trade Deadline before he was eventually acquired from the Mets by the Pirates in late August of that season.
Reds manager Bryan Price was excited about adding Byrd to his lineup.
"It makes us better in a lot of ways, not just statistically from a run-production standpoint but from the standpoint of how hard we're going to play and how we prepare," Price said. "He can help our guys. He's got plenty of years in the league. If that can rub off on our players, he makes everyone around him better."
One spot on Byrd's resume is a 50-game suspension he received in 2012 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. It did not appear to concern the Reds.
"We have no problem with that," general manager Walt Jocketty said.
Byrd once was Brandon Phillips' roommate in the Arizona Fall League and has had contact over the years with other Reds players like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce from playing against them in the National League Central. He looked forward to trying to fit in with his new club.
"There are guys on the team I've had conversations with, but you have to get welcomed into any clubhouse you go to and just go from there," Byrd said. "You try to come in and be a piece of the puzzle. That's all I'm trying to do right now."