Byrd taking family under his wing

first_imgANAHEIM — Paul Byrd never thought his home in Alpharetta, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, would become a bed and breakfast of sorts. Because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Angels pitcher and his wife, Kym, have opened up their home to dozens of Kym’s relatives who live in the New Orleans area. Byrd’s $5 million salary this season has allowed him to help out more than most can afford to. Considering baseball’s warped financial structure, however, Byrd actually is a bargain for the Angels. Byrd figures to get a start in the Angels’ American League Division Series after having the type of season the Angels hoped he would when they signed him to a one-year contract this past winter. Byrd, 34, went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 regular-season starts. He threw 22 quality starts (at least six innings pitched, three earned runs or fewer), which rank second in the league to the Twins’ Johan Santana, who has 23. “We were looking for a steady, reliable, veteran pitcher who would hopefully pitch 200 innings,” Angels pitching coach Bud Black said. “And he did (204 1/3). And he did it with an ERA in the three’s. When you have an ERA under four in the American League and you throw 200 innings, you are pitching very consistent baseball.” Byrd’s style also has provided a nice complement to the Angels’ power arms. He rarely throws harder than 90 mph but uses a deceptive delivery and mixes his pitches effectively to keep hitters guessing. Byrd said it was the least he could do. He even considered leaving the team when one of Kym’s relatives was missing. Six days after the hurricane the missing relative was found safe and sound, but Byrd’s thoughts remain with the survivors — even as he helps the Angels prepare for Tuesday’s American League Division Series opener against the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium. “A lot of family has rotated in and out, and just recently some of them have gone back to see what happened to their homes,” Byrd said. “We’ve tried to bridge the gap financially for some people. It’s important to help out and alleviate some stress. It’s a very tough time emotionally for everybody.” center_img “I think it’s a nice change of pace for the rotation,” Byrd said. “I don’t think in any rotation you want too much of one thing. I believe we’ve got a rotation with a mixture. The best rotation I’ve ever seen was Atlanta’s when they had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. They had a right-handed finesse guy, a left-handed finesse guy and a right-handed power guy.” Angels manager Mike Scioscia is more concerned about performance than the type of pitchers he puts on the mound. “He certainly brings another dimension that can be important,” Scioscia said, “but it’s not just the type of pitcher he is, it’s production. He’s pitched very well, he’s pitched deep into games and has given us a chance to win on a consistent basis.” Byrd missed all of the 2003 season and half of 2004 while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He says his arm feels as strong and fresh as an 18-year-old’s — “I’ve thrown 200 innings and I feel like I just started” — and his aggressiveness on the mound confirms it. “His style of pitcher is one where he’s a supreme strike thrower,” Black said. “His ball-strike ratio is outstanding. He attacks hitters from the very first pitch. He doesn’t pitch defensively. Guys with similar stuff usually try to miss bats and expand the zone. He’s the opposite; he goes after guys.” Byrd’s contract with the team will end as soon as the team’s season is complete, but he said he’d like to come back next season. Starters Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar are signed through next season and John Lackey and Ervin Santana also figure to be in the rotation. Jarrod Washburn is a free agent and probably won’t be back, but former first-round draft pick Jered Weaver might not be that far away and rookie Joe Saunders has been impressive. “I’d love to come back here,” he said. “It’s their decision. If not, I’ll move on with no hard feelings. They have a lot of young starters coming along. If they feel the young guys can do the job, they might want to spend money on hitting. We’ll see how it plays out.” Joe Haakenson can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2239, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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