Dodging questions the last two weeks regarding his future with the Cubs was all posturing. Center fielder Marlon Byrd knew he’d be traded this season.
When he was called into manager Dale Sveum’s office Saturday, the only thing that surprised Byrd was the timing of the move that sent him and cash considerations to the Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Michael Bowden and a player to be named.
“I knew I was going to get traded,” Byrd said before playing against the White Sox on Thursday in his return to Chicago since the trade. “[Class AAA Iowa center fielder] Brett Jackson is the future over there. I just didn’t know when, and I didn’t think it would be April.”
The organization doesn’t want to rush Jackson, so Byrd thought a move would come closer to the trade deadline.
But with Byrd hitting .070 in 13 games with the Cubs and the Red Sox in need of a center fielder after Jacoby Ellsbury partially dislocated his shoulder, the Cubs were presented with an ideal opportunity to get maximum value for Byrd.
“I had to kind of apologize for starting so slow,” Byrd said. “When they traded me, I think they could’ve gotten more if I was doing well. I did what I could over there, and I wish them the best.”
In need of an outfielder after the Milton Bradley experiment went awry in 2009, the Cubs signed Byrd, hoping he could help them get back to the playoffs after back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008.
A poor first half of the 2010 season turned the Cubs into sellers by the trade deadline, signaling the organization was moving toward a youth movement that Byrd, at the time, steadfastly denied.
The organization’s front-office overhaul a year later not only proved Byrd’s assessment to be wrong, but it ushered him out quickly.
Now in a different uniform, Byrd was more realistic in conceding the Cubs are far from winning and even further from contending.
“It’s going to be a couple of years,” Byrd said. “I said it when Theo [Epstein] came over; my guess was by 2014, ’15 they’re going to be ready to contend every year – not just be good that year but from that point on start a dynasty.”
Byrd hit .293 and drove in 66 runs for the Cubs in 2010, but his numbers severely dipped the next season.
On May 21, 2011, when the Cubs were playing in Boston, Byrd was hit in the face by an Alfredo Aceves pitch. The injury kept him out over a month, and he never returned to form. Byrd hit nine homers, had 35 RBI and batted .276.
“Without the track record, I’m not here [in Boston],” Byrd said. “I’m probably released or gone or sent to Triple-A or something.”