CINCINNATI — Marlon Byrd has been down this highway so many times he doesn’t even have to read the road signs.
For the third straight time, as the trade deadline approaches, his name is out there. The 37-year-old left fielder is a marketable commodity, a guy who can hit with power and a guy who won’t embarrass himself with a glove on his hand.
That’s why, at the trade deadline, teams come looking and they find Byrd.
IN 2012 HE WAS playing for the Chicago Cubs when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. In 2013 he was playing for the New York Mets when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And last year, in the off-season, he was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Reds.
And now the scouts are circling him again.
IF BYRD STUCK A sticker on one piece of luggage for all the places he has played it would looked as if it belonged to Johnny Cash when he sang ‘I’ve Been Everywhere.’
Not counting stops in six minor-league cities, his major league stops were in Philadelphia, Washington, Texas, Chicago, Boston, New York, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
“Third year straight,” said Byrd as he pulled on an undershirt before donning his Reds uniform, perhaps for one of the last few times. “I’ve been traded four times now. I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t affect you because we have families and it is not easy to pick it all up, pack it and move it.
“But I’m not going to sit here and say my life is horrid,” he added. “All the perks we have, but trades are one thing that’s tough for us because of the logisticis.”
While adjusting to a new team, new city and new environment can be mentally debilitating for some players, it isn’t for Byrd.
“Not for me,” he said. “I’ve been around for so long. If I don’t know who they are, most guys know who I am.”
BYRD WAS EXTREMELY outspoken this spring about the high expectations for the 2015 Reds, how he didn’t care where he batted in the order because there was power and ability up one side of the lineup and down the other. That, of course, is how it looked on paper to Byrd.
That paper was long ago fed to the shredder as the Reds wobble into the second half trying to avoid last place.
What happened? What went wrong? And to his credit, Byrd would not blame the plethora of injuries that haunts the Reds, “Because everybody has injuries and we can’t blame that at all.
“WE HAVEN’T WON enough, just have not won,” he said. “Successful winning comes from pitching, defense and timely hitting. You have to put all three together. We haven’t put them all together enough times.
“In the span of games we’ve played (90) we needed to put those all together 55 or 60 times and we haven’t. We’ve fallen off course. If I’m still here for the second half we’ll try to make a big push and at least enjoy it.”
BYRD ISN’T ONE who hopes to be traded to a contender, a team that can at least smell the closeness of a World Series appearance. He says he’d like to stay in Cincinnati.
“If I am still here, it would be great for me because I love it here,” he said. “I’ve had a great time with these guys and this team. I’d like to try it again next year.”
After a miserable start, Byrd has been one of the club’s few consistent contributors of late. Since coming off the disabled list 23 games ago — he was on the disabled list only 16 days with a fractured wrist — he is hitting .299 with six homers and put together a team-high 13-game hitting streak.
And Byrd gave scouts a different glimpse of him Tuesday night. Manager Bryan Price decided to give Billy Hamilton a night off, so he put Skip Schumaker in left field and moved Byrd to center, a position he loves.
“When I told him he was going to play center field he looked at me as if I had lobsters growing out of my ears,” said Price. “That’s how excited he was about it.”
TONY CINGRANI will pitch the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader after spending time at Class AAA Louisville developing his breaking pitch. Cingrani was a candidate for the rotation early in spring training but was quickly shunted to the bullpen.
While at Louisville on a rehab assignment for 15 days he made three starts and one relief appearance and didn’t allow a run over 14 innings and just six hits.
“Tony had a really dominant breakout year in 2012 and was our most dominant organizational pitcher when he came up through our system. I’m excited about seeing his breaking ball,” said Price. “It is my understanding he improved it greatly during his time on the DL and his time in Triple-A. I’m looking forward to seeing an improved pitcher who has more in his arsenal than he did when he was hurt.”
THERE WAS A video they played on the scoreboard in old Riverfront Stadium that flashed and blinked after a pitcher issued a walk. “Walks Haunt,” it said and a ghost bounced around the videoboard.
Walks are haunting Reds pitchers these days. They issued 10 in a weekend loss to the Indians and a Cleveland writer said the Tribe was a pedestrian team because they did a lot of walking.
What gives with Reds pitchers issuing more free passes than Bill Veeck passed out to fans for St. Louis Browns games.
“We have a lot of guys coming to the big leagues who are trying to establish themselves as credible big league pitchers,” said Price. “This has been a season that has provided opportunity for young pitchers like Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Rafael Iglesias in the rotation. We have a bullpen of young guys like Pedro Villarreal, Nate Adcock and Carlos Contreras — guys trying to impress.
“And what all this has proven is that you have to command the strike zone to be successful at this level,” Price added. “What we’re finding are guys who can or guys who can’t or won’t. They have to make the necessary adjustments. If we are going to have more success it is going to start with pitching. We address it every day in the bullpen.”
THERE IS NO DOUBT Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is a different breed of bear and it surfaced again after Monday’s game, a game his team lost to the Reds, 5-4. And what did he say about it?
“If you didn’t find that game entertaining then you don’t like baseball,” he said.
WHERE HAS JOURNALISM gone? We had some furniture delivered today and when they were finished, one very nice gentleman said to me, “It’s nice to see somebody made it in Journalism. I have a Journalism degree and here I am delivering furniture.”
When I graduated from Kent State University in 1962, I had more than 10 job offers and that was the case for most J-school graduates. The last time I checked, a few years ago, there was one job for every 12 graduates. And it probably is much worse now.
And where would I have been had I not found my way to Dayton? Probably hauling furniture.