3/21 Byrd: "I'm here to win"

On Sunday, before Marlon Byrd even got to HoHoKam, he had already taken a few swings in front of the mirror in his Arizona condo. He then drove to the park, much earlier than the other regulars, got dressed, had his breakfast, and was ready to hit. But as Byrd was headed to the batting cages, Rudy Jaramillo was walking in. The two joked about the timing — and, naturally, Jaramillo turned around to go back to the cage with the Cubs new center fielder.

The key to Byrd’s success is keeping a routine. He’ll never forget when he first joined the Phillies. Finding a routine that worked was the advice he got from Jim Thome.

“It’s just over tme, finding a routine, picking from all the guys I’ve come up with,” Byrd said. “My rookie year, I came up with Jim Thome, Jose Mesa, Billy Wagner, Dan Plesac, Rheal Cormier, Tim Worrell. I started picking things from all those guys I played with, all the veterans over the years.”

When Byrd went to the Nationals in 2005-06, he watched veterans like Marlon Anderson, Royce Clayton and Vinny Castilla and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. Byrd still tapes his bat the way Wil Cordero showed him. He has learned from Eddie Guardado, Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr. When he went to Texas, Byrd watched Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa. What did he pick up from Sosa?

“Routine,” Byrd said. “[Batting] cage routine. He said, ‘You do the same routine every single day in the cage, never change.’ Over the years, it’s developed.”

On Saturday, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano said he has enjoyed watching new teammates like Xavier Nady and Byrd.

“I like Marlon Byrd a lot and the way he goes about his business,” Zambrano said. “He just cares about playing baseball. He came here on a mission. People count more on [Derrek Lee] and Aramis [Ramirez] to drive this team but he’s there. He wants to be part of those three dangerous hitters, 3-4-5. That’s a good thing.”

Is Byrd on a mission?

“Yes,” Byrd said. “I’m here. I’m here to win. I’m not here to replace anybody or anything or all that, I’m here to help this team win. They came and got me not because they needed a good clubhouse guy but because they needed somebody to play center field and do it well and I know I can do that. I’m getting myself ready to go out there and play as many games as possible.”

— Carrie Muskat

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