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New Pirate Byrd ready for challenge, postseason

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd watches his three-run homer during the seventh inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, at PNC Park.

Marlon Byrd played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003 and the Texas Rangers in 2009, teams that were in contention but fell short of the postseason.

With Tuesday's trade from the New York Mets to the Pirates, the 35-year-old outfielder hopes this year he'll finally experience October baseball. Byrd made his Pirates debut in right field, batting fourth, and hit a three-run homer off Milwaukee Brewers reliever Burke Badenhop in the seventh inning Wednesday.

“I was taking it all in,” Byrd said. “Gosh, I'm with the Pittsburgh Pirates and we're fighting to get to the playoffs.”

Byrd got a curtain call — his first, he said — after the home run and received an ovation after he struck out after a 14-pitch at-bat in the fourth.

“That was amazing,” he said. “I was upset that I didn't finish the at-bat, but to hear the fans cheering, that was a beautiful thing.”

Byrd is expected to provide the offensive help the Pirates have been searching for from their right fielder, but he said Wednesday that his job isn't to come to Pittsburgh and be a game-changer.

“It's to continue to help this team win and be a piece of the puzzle,” he said. “They're playing well; I just have to figure out how I can add in and help win games.”

The 2010 All-Star is coming off a 2012 season in which he served a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test and batted just .210 with one home run and nine RBI in 47 games with the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Byrd is batting .309 (47 for 152) in 39 games since the All-Star break. He has 22 home runs and 74 RBI this season.

“He's fought hard and scratched and clawed to get back in, and the offensive numbers speak for themselves,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the game. “The layers of experience, gamesmanship, attitude, the edge he brings to the game, we're looking forward to getting him plugged in right away.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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