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04/04/08 11:13 PM ET
Byrd must deliver against righties
Outfielder sat in two of first three games of year vs. Mariners
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Marlon Byrd was back in the lineup on Friday night against Angels right-hander Dustin Moseley after not starting the last two games of a three-game series with the Mariners earlier this week. Byrd, a right-handed hitter, started Opening Day against left-hander Erik Bedard but sat when the Mariners started right-handers on the mound. Instead Frank Catalanotto, a left-handed hitter, was in the lineup against Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva. Josh Hamilton and David Murphy, two other left-handed hitters, have been in the starting outfield for four straight games, while switch-hitter Milton Bradley has been at designated hitter. Catalanotto sat on Friday night and manager Ron Washington said Murphy might get a day off on Saturday night. Byrd knows he's at a disadvantage because most starting pitchers are right-handed. That leaves him competing for playing time with three left-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. Byrd knows he has to keep showing he can hit right-handed pitching to keep from becoming the lesser-used platoon partner. "If I don't, I'm sitting on the bench," Byrd said. "If I don't produce against right-handers, there's no need to play me. We have five outfielders who can hit right-handers and left-handers. David Murphy kills everybody. Josh Hamilton kills everybody. Milton Bradley is a switch-hitter. Cat is the only one who can't start against lefties. I have to show I can hit righties." Byrd did last year, hitting .300 with an .807 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) against them. That was a huge improvement over 2004-06, when he hit .234 with .627 OPS against right-handers. Byrd said he was susceptible to right-handers pounding fastballs inside against him but was able to close that hole with the help of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and Triple-A hitting coach Randy Whisler. "That was last year," Byrd said. "This year I have to continue to do it." Washington said his lineups are a "feel thing" that he goes by each day. He wanted Catalanotto against Silva and Hernandez, but he wanted Byrd back in there on Friday. "I'm going to play him against righties and lefties," Washington said. "I don't want to sit Marlon four or five days, just like I don't want to sit Cat four or five days."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.