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Archive for Friday, April 1, 2005

Phillies send outfielder Byrd to minors

April 1, 2005

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— Marlon Byrd has gone from starter to backup to the minors again.

Byrd, the opening-day center fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies the last two seasons, was sent to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, clearing the way for veteran Jose Offerman to make the team.

Byrd was having an outstanding spring, hitting .390 before he dislocated his right ring finger on March 20.

"I did everything that I could to try to make this team," Byrd said. "The finger might have been a setback or just the situation. I was the odd man out, I had the option and they can use it. It boils down to their decision."

The Phillies will carry just four outfielders -- Pat Burrell, Kenny Lofton, Bobby Abreu and Jason Michaels -- on their 25-man roster. Offerman, a switch-hitter who will be used mainly in pinch-hitting situations, probably won't be officially added to the roster until Saturday when teams must submit their list of players.

Byrd's once promising career with the Phillies hit a detour last year. After a successful rookie season in 2003, Byrd struggled from the start and never recovered. He lost his spot as the leadoff hitter, then lost his starting job and finally was sent to Triple-A for a brief stay.

The Phillies acquired Lofton from the New York Yankees in the offseason to play center field. He'll platoon with Michaels, who took Byrd's spot last season.

"It was a very tough decision," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He'll go down there and he'll play. It's good for him. I saw a lot of improvement in his hitting. This is a good chance for him to get his bat going."

Byrd hit .303 and finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2003. After being moved to the leadoff spot, he had a .317 average with six homers, 31 RBIs and 62 runs in 74 games.

But last season, he hit .228 with five homers and 68 strikeouts. He changed his swing this spring, incorporating his legs and taking a more aggressive approach. It worked, but he still couldn't make the team because the Phillies want to carry 12 pitchers early in the season.

"I came into the spring to prove to myself that I could still play and that's what I did," Byrd said.

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