Results tagged ‘ Marlon Byrd ’
You asked about Brett Jackson. I see him being ready very soon. He has to put together another good season this year and stay healthy — that’s the main thing — and keep learning. He has to keep learning. A lot of guys with his talent — I was the same way. You dominate in the Minor Leagues but you don’t learn how to get ready for the big leagues and you come up and struggle. That’s what I’ve been trying to get across to him is I don’t want him struggling when he comes up. I want him coming up and staying up for good. With his work ethic and his athletic ability, there’s no reason he won’t be the center fielder of the future.
Everyone sees what Q’s done. He’s done an unbelievable job. We played hard for him — he made it easy for us to play hard for him. Following a legend and an icon is not an easy thing to do and he did it very well. I don’t know if he’ll be here next year, but the way we played will make it tough on Jim — actually, it’s a good thing to make it tough on Jim, because he has a lot of quality guys to interview. We took a step forward at the end of the season. It’s all about development — guys getting better, work their butts off this offseason and get stronger, better, faster and up their baseball IQ and we’re going to be fine.
You don’t see 900 hits celebrated on ESPN or anything like when a guy gets his 1,000th hit. If you put it in perspective, 3,000 hits is a Hall of Fame career. Half of that — 1,500 hits — is a big goal of mine, especially considering where I started. I wasn’t sure after my rookie year going into my second year, when I lost my job, if I was ever going to be a starting outfielder again. To have 900 hits is huge. One thousand is a great career. If I get 1,500, that means I haven’t slowed down at all and that would be real nice.
I think the fans have to understand that getting hits in baseball isn’t easy, staying in the big leagues isn’t easy. I’ve been designated for assignment and placed on waivers. I’m going to keep going to see how many I end up with. I didn’t get the game ball. You get the ball on your 1,000th hit, 1,500th, 2,000th, 2,500th. I’ll work toward 1,000 next year and get that ball.
I know there are a lot of questions about how this team is playing and how we’ve responded since Mike Quade took over. We played as hard as we could for Lou and tried to win and it didn’t work out. He had to go home for more important business to take care of his family — everybody knows that. Quade has come in and done an unbelievable job. The atmosphere is the same, we’re still playing hard, everyone is still working hard. The coaches are still going about their business but for some reason, he’s getting wins. You have to attest a little to him.
He’s doing a great job. He’s putting guys in the right position and the right spots to win and for this team to win. I guess it’s like riding a bike for him after all the years he managed in the Minors. He took over, had a little meeting, and was ready to go on Day One. He’s done a very impressive job. He can manage and does a great job. He gets guys out there prepared and ready to play. If he’s not going to be here, hopefully he is managing somewhere soon because a team needs him and deserves him.
There’s not more energy here, it’s just a more relaxed atmosphere. I’m not saying it wasn’t like that when Lou was here. Now, it’s like, “All right, what else can we do? Let’s go play baseball and have fun.” There was pressure here because we were expected to win. I don’t know if that pressure is gone, but whatever Quade is doing, you can attest the wins to him.
We’re going to try to do the same thing against the Reds that we did in St. Louis, which is play well. We’re playing a contending team and we want to keep the streak going and try to win a series. Quade’s doing a good job, everyone’s still playing hard, as we’ve been doing all year long. The bullpen has been shutting guys down like we need and we’re scoring enough runs for the starting pitchers. We’ve got a Reds team, they might like us as players, but I think every team in the Central loves to beat the Cubs and they’re one of them. We can play the role of spoilers and make it tight for this Central race. Let’s see if we can win a couple here and let St. Louis gain some ground, and, at the same time, killing two birds with one stone, we play well. We’re trying to finish up strong. It’s a nice atmosphere in here when we’re winning.
It’s just a different voice with “Q.” Sometimes change is good for a team. At the same time, we lost a legend. It’s got to be tough on “Q.” It’s just something where I don’t know if it shocks players when you see a guy like Lou leave. Older guys have seen it. Young guys, it might be a little shock to their system. “Q” brings energy that he’s brung all year long. It’s just a different voice, and I think it’s showing in how we’re playing.
The last six weeks, Padres, Braves, the Cardinals again — they’re all first or second-place teams. They’re all in the thick of things. The Giants come to town and we’ve got Cincinnati again. You still have to get up for the games and that makes it a lot easier instead of playing teams that are having down years like we’re having. The competition is there, you see the fire on the other side. There is something to play for. It’s not fun getting spoiled if you’re the other team. When you’re the team doing it, it’s a lot of fun. It gives us something to play for. You can’t look past this season. You want to try to finish strong and go into the offseason with positive attitudes.
For me, personally, this is going to be fun. Seeing the team looking back at the scoreboard, seeing what the other team is doing to them and us trying to beat up on them. Cubs versus Cardinals, you will always see fire in those games. This whole homestand will be very difficult. Tough pitching. We have to put it together and try to have some fun.
Larry Bowa was my first manager. Frank Robinson was my second. With Bowa, you’re talking about one of the greatest shortstops of all time, even though people forget that. He had 2,800 hits and Gold Glove defense and played on championship teams. He was a fiery, fiery guy, sort of like Lou. Frank Robinson, I don’t have to say anything about him. A Hall of Famer and one of the greatest of all time — 586 home runs, a little short of 3,000 hits. I’m sure he could come back now and get them.
Then I played for Ron Washington. He’s probably the only one who’s different. I think if you mold all those guys together, you have Lou. He’s a clubhouse guy, a players’ manager as well as knows his X’s and O’s on the field. Baseball is going to miss him. He’s always going to be known for his fieriness but at the same time he’ll be known for taking teams to the playoffs and having very good teams.
Note: On Thursday, Marlon Byrd visited the Union League Boys & Girls Club on North Washtenaw Avenue to kickoff a summer-long program. It was the official launch of a community outreach program created by the Cubs and Steiner Sports Memorabilia, Inc., which will include a clinic Monday at Wrigley, hosted by Byrd and pitcher Randy Wells.
It was funny because I remember my first day at the Boys Club — me going in and meeting new people and being a little bit scared because I didn’t know anybody. The relationships that carried over — I met Dion Glover, who used to play with the Atlanta Hawks. Today just took me back. I remembered all those days and the fun we had with all the kids. Everybody was so friendly. At the same time, being able to give back and having them cheer for you and seeing the smiling faces, it was wonderful.
The All-Star Game was unbelievable. A couple lockers down from me was Albert Pujols, right around the corner, Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, the Great One. The whole experience was unbelievable. I think what really capped it off was after I made that throw, after the game, having the other All-Star outfielders come up to me and say that was a heck of a play. You go out there and just try to execute and play hard. It’s the All-Star Game, and being recognized by your peers, them voting me in, and at the same time, great play, and you start realizing, “Hey, I can play this game a little bit.”
I’m the guy who flies under the radar, I try to do small things to help the team. My defense has kept me in the game. The walk to keep the game going to let the MVP, Brian McCann, come through, just little things like that, it was fun. I was really glad I was part of it.
Everyone’s heard the names. Juan Gonzalez. Pudge Rodriguez. Rafael Palmeiro. Alex Rodriguez. Michael Young. Then you turn the page to Gary Matthews Jr., Mark DeRosa, Marlon Byrd, Nelson Cruz. One thing all those guys has in common is they’ve worked with Rudy and they have positive things to say.
With Gary Matthews and Nelson Cruz, we’re all big league players but we struggled in the big leagues. Opening Day, we were sitting at home. Gary Matthews went through that with me. Nelson Cruz went through that same thing, getting designated. Sticking with Rudy’s program, him believing in us, us believing in him, working hard every single day, getting in a routine, we got better. Hands down, he’s the best hitting coach in baseball and everybody knows that.
I also had to talk to Rudy and remind him that in 2007 when I came to Texas, the Rangers were a team nobody talked about. The energy wasn’t there. It was a team that just hit. It took a couple years to change the culture. You saw how they won in 2009 and you see how they are now in 2010 — full of energy. Everybody over there is doing their jobs.
I told Rudy coming over here, implementing your system, it doesn’t happen right away. That’s what the fans and everybody watching the Cubs has to understand. It doesn’t happen right away. Me working with him, it’s my fourth year. I know how to work with him and he knows how to work with me. He’s still learning everybody’s swing and he’s still trying to figure out how to work with different players and personalities. It doesn’t sound good to say it but 2011 is going to be a better year as far as this whole Cubs organization knowing his system. We are going to get better as we go through this year.