When opportunity knocked, Byrd answered
BOSTON -- Paul Byrd may have missed most of the season waiting for the right opportunity, but even at home with his family he never stopped working out. While coaching his 11- and 13-year-old sons in Atlanta, Byrd would run wind sprints, stretch and even throw off the mound.
When the Red Sox called in early August and asked Byrd if he'd be willing to be "an insurance policy," Byrd told them, "Let me go throw off a mound and check." The session went well, Byrd signed a minor league deal and then took a few weeks building up his arm strength.
"I was kind of training without knowing it and I was in really good shape without knowing it," Byrd said. "That was the only reason I was able to come back.
"I'm glad I wasn't just watching TV."
Byrd, 38, said his arm feels great, even "phenomenal." He said physically he feels like his body is right about at the end of spring training. He'll take the mound on Wednesday night against the Angels, looking for his second win. In three starts this season, he's 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA. While the sample size is small, Byrd so far has had much more success in his two starts at Fenway, with a 1.64 ERA and a .225 batting average against.
"I've never had 10 months off without having major surgery," Byrd said. "I feel great, my arm feels great. So, it's OK getting older, right?"
Secret to his successJoe Saunders, who will be starting for the Angels, is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his last three starts. According to Jeremy Lundblad of our research department, part of the reason for his success is his great numbers against righties. Saunders has held them to a .200 (10-for-50) batting average during the three-game stretch; prior to that they were hitting .296.
How did he get righties out? Jeremy explains ...
Down and away -- hitters are 2-for-15 (2-for-11 on fastballs down and away)
Out of strike zone -- hitters are 0-for-8
Middle-in (in strike zone) -- hitters are 0-for-4 (all fastballs)
Jeremy also adds that among qualifying starters, Saunders' 1.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second-worst in the American League.