NEW YORK (WFAN) — Marlon Byrd is slated to be the Mets’ everyday right fielder in 2013.
Oh, how far he’s come.
The 35-year-old was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2010, but it had been all downhill for the right-handed hitter since then.
Byrd had a mediocre 2011 season with the Cubs, and he struggled mightily in 2012 before being traded to the Red Sox in the first month of the season. He was designated for assignment in June and then released three days later.
It call came crashing down for the veteran on June 25, 2012, when he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance.
Byrd addressed the suspension candidly following the incident, and he did so again on Thursday afternoon.
“It was a stupid move on my part,” Byrd told WFAN hosts Marc Malusis and Kim Jones. “It was the first time in my career that I didn’t pay attention to what I was taking, didn’t check the lists properly. I said it right in the beginning, right when I got here in camp: You have to be an idiot to test positive, and I’m part of the group. I’m one of the dummies out there who tested positive. But at the same time, in life, you have to embrace the negatives along with the positives.”
The 11-year veteran could have gone into reclusion and given up, but he didn’t feel sorry for himself. He owned up to his mistake and stayed committed to reviving his career, working tirelessly to return to the major leagues.
“I didn’t ask why I tested positive,” Byrd said. “I asked myself, ‘What am I going to do with my life now?’ And from June 12 all the way to September 26, I hit every single day in the cage except one day. I couldn’t get a job, and I understood why because of everything that had gone on in baseball, in sports, as far the positive tests.”
Without any interest from major league clubs, Byrd ventured south of the border this past winter and played in the Mexican Pacific League.
“I took all the time that I needed to work on my swing to get better, and just went down to Mexico and played more baseball to show these guys that I really want to play the game,” Byrd said.
The 6-foot-0, 225-pounder has proved his worth to the Amazin’s this spring, wearing out Grapefruit League pitching. In 52 games this spring entering Thursday’s contest, Byrd is 18-for-52 (.346) with a home run, seven RBIs, eight doubles and a .375 on-base percentage.
Now that he’s been given new life with the Mets, he’s determined to provide general manager Sandy Alderson with a quality return on investment.
“I needed one team to believe in me, and that was the Mets,” Byrd said. “They believed in me. They brought me in and they trusted me. They’re trusting me to be the player that I was. They’re trusting me to be the clean player that I am, and it’s one of those things where you kind of want to go out there and work so hard and kind of reward the Mets for putting that trust in you.”
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