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Byrd plans to pitch in somehow

Byrd plans to pitch in somehow

BOSTON -- Paul Byrd isn't picky.

Starting work. Relief work. Janitorial work.

If it helps the Red Sox win a World Series, the veteran Byrd is willing to do it.

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"I'm looking for my first ring, and hopefully that happens," he said. "I'll do anything to get it. I'll carry a bucket of balls, I'll clean toilets, I'll shine everybody's shoes. I'll do whatever it takes."

With Josh Beckett healthy enough to get the nod in Sunday's Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels, the Red Sox aren't going to have to make a choice between Tim Wakefield and Byrd for that start. And Byrd was considered the less likely of the two to get the start, anyway.

Byrd, then, finds himself in a long-relief role this postseason. It's an odd spot for the 37-year-old, who hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since the 2004 NL Division Series, when he was a member of the Braves. In that series, Byrd went 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA over two appearances.

"It's OK," he said of the role. "It's not a huge deal for me. I don't take a long time to warm up, and I don't have to go through some elaborate routine to get started. I'm fine with whatever happens, and I've had a good amount of rest. My arm's fresh."

Byrd, who began the season with the Indians, is still just happy to have a fresh opportunity with a contender.

Dominant edge
This is the eighth time that the Red Sox have won the first two games of a postseason series. On the seven previous occasions, Boston has won the third game five times. In the seven previous series in which the Red Sox have led, 2-0, they have won that series on six occasions.
Year
Round
Opp.
Game 3
Series
1916
WS
BRO
L on road
W in 5
1975
LCS
OAK
W on road
W in 3
1986
WS
NYM
L at home
L in 7
2004
DS
ANA
W at home
W in 3
2004
WS
STL
W on road
W in 4
2007
DS
LAA
W on road
W in 3
2007
WS
COL
W on road
W in 4

Earlier this summer, the non-waiver Trade Deadline came and went, and the waiver Trade Deadline was coming and going. And so, Byrd began to resign himself to the thought of finishing the season with what was, at that time, a losing Tribe team.

"I was having a really rough year," Byrd said. "I was starting to turn it around, but my numbers were pretty atrocious, overall. If you looked at the big picture, I don't think anybody was 100 percent sure what they were getting."

But with Wakefield hurting and Clay Buchholz struggling, the Red Sox found themselves getting desperate for some starting help in mid-August. They came calling for Byrd and were willing to take on the $2 million that remained on his salary.

Boston saw that Byrd was just beginning to take flight. He was 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA for the season but 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA in the second half, up to that point.

He went 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA in eight starts for his new club.

"They paid me a lot of money to come over and help out," he said. "It felt good to be able to help."

Byrd will only be able to help in the ALDS if a Red Sox starter struggles or he's called in for mop-up duty (the baseball kind, not the janitorial kind). Whether or not he takes the mound, he's hoping this October provides him with a little redemption after the heartbreak of last year's AL Championship Series, when the Indians squandered their 3-1 series advantage and dropped Games 5, 6 and 7.

"Crushing," Byrd said of that series. "You wonder if it would have been better to get blown out by Boston and say, 'Hey, they were a much better team, and we gave it our best,' than it would have been to be up three games to one and be able to taste the World Series and then lose. It's hard to say."

What's not so hard for Byrd is putting his ego aside for a Red Sox team he believes can go all the way.

"I have to be ready for anything," he said. "I'm just excited to be a part of the postseason."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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