Marlon Byrd is excited to show off his outfield skills in center field at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs in 2010. For a big man, most analysts are surprised to see Byrd in action – how well he covers ground in center field in spite of his muscular 245 pound body. Current Cubs player Sam Fuld is impressed with what he has seen so far: “It goes to show you what an athlete Byrd is. He certainly doesn’t fit the prototypical center fielder’s body. He looks more like a linebacker or NFL running back. He’s obviously proven he can play the position.”
Byrd acknowledges his critics, but knows that he is at home in center field: “I know a lot of writers and scouts who haven’t seen me play in the outfield don’t think I can play out there because of my size. When people see me play, they know I can play.”
Gotta love the confidence. I also love the stability that Byrd brings to the center field position for the Cubs. Byrd had a breakout year with the Texas Rangers in 2009 – .283 batting average with a .329 on-base percentage. His 547 at-bats, 20 HR’s and 89 RBI’s were all career highs and he also scored 66 runs. He’ll also have the same hitting coach, as Rudy Jaramillo left the Rangers for the Cubs organization as well. I don’t like the fact that he is turning 33 in August – GM Jim Hendry’s signings of “older players coming off of great seasons” have not fared too well of late – but hopefully he has at least 2 more good years left in the tank.
Having Byrd patrol center field also allows Kosuke Fukudome to move back to right field where he is more “comfortable”. If Fukudome feeling more comfortable in right field helps to improve his hitting, that will be a good the Cubs offensive production, especially at the top of the order. We’ll keep you posted as spring progresses – let’s just hope we don’t get caught in the injury bug with any projected starter. We need everyone healthy during the 2010 MLB schedule!