Marlon Byrd waits his turn during batting practice before a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t wasting any time putting newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd to work.
Byrd will bat cleanup on Wednesday night when the Pirates host the Milwaukee Brewers. Pittsburgh acquired Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday hoping to bolster its offense as the franchise searches for its first playoff berth in 21 years.
The 35-year-old Byrd says he was a little stunned about the trade, which came on the same day the Mets were giving fans at Citi Field T-shirts celebrating Byrd’s tremendous season. Byrd joked he didn’t even pick up a T-shirt before joining Buck for the six-hour drive from New York to Pittsburgh.
Byrd says he has some unfinished business of his own. The 12-year veteran is still waiting to make his playoff debut.
New York Mets’ Marlon Byrd hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Byrd, 35, is hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs this season and will give Pittsburgh needed depth in the outfield while leadoff hitter Starling Marte recovers from a wrist injury. Buck, 33, is batting .215 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Buck’s 63 home runs as a catcher rank third in the majors. He is expected to back up Russell Martin.
Pittsburgh is searching for offense to take some of the pressure off a pitching staff that has carried the team for long stretches during the first five months of the season. The Pirates lead the majors with a 3.21 ERA, though there have been signs of wear and tear this month. Pittsburgh is 11-12 in August and has seen a 4-game lead over St. Louis two weeks ago turn into a virtual tie.
Byrd has been red hot since the All-Star break, hitting .311 with 11 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 38 games. His presence should help an offense that is batting just .244 on the year, including an abysmal .223 with runners in scoring position, the second-lowest average in baseball.
The 19-year-old Herrera is hitting .265 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI for Class A West Virginia.