7/4 Byrd is the word

The fans picked their top National League outfielders. The players, managers and coaches chose Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd. He was named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, selected in the balloting by the National League players, managers and coaches.

“Marlon’s done a nice job for us,” Lou Piniella said Sunday. “He plays hard, he’s got some energy to him, he does a nice job out in center field. It was a good signing by [general manager] Jim Hendry. He’s been a good positive for us.”

The National League starting outfield, as selected by the fans, includes Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Los Angeles’ Andre Ethier and Atlanta’s Jayson Heyward. Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano was the only player to show up in the fan balloting in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s announcement, and he was ranked 11th.

Besides Byrd, other NL outfielders chosen in the player, manager and coaches balloting includes Milwaukee’s Corey Hart and St. Louis’ Matt Holliday. Houston’s Michael Bourn and Arizona’s Chris Young also were chosen by National League manager Charlie Manuel.

This is Byrd’s first season in Chicago, and he has ranked among the National League leaders in batting average most of the season and impressed his new team with a .348 average in the first month. He batted .333 in June with nine doubles, two homers and eight RBIs.

The Cubs were a good fit for Byrd, who was reunited with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, his mentor in Texas.

But Byrd also has shined in center field, making diving catches, and has shown he’s unafraid of the ivy at Wrigley Field, jumping up against the brick walls to get balls.

“I’ve got no complaints with his play,” Piniella said. “I’ve got nothing but praise for the young man. He’s come in here and played hard and done a good job.”

Last year, pitcher Ted Lilly was the Cubs’ lone All-Star representative.

– Carrie Muskat

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