Byrd mourns death of friend

PHOENIX -- Right-hander Darren Byrd has been working with a heavy heart in the early days of Brewers camp following the death of one of his best friends, who died from injuries suffered in a highway accident the day Byrd left for Maryvale Baseball Park.

Byrd was awaiting a connecting flight in Houston on Feb. 11 when his wife called with news that Brian Steinbeck, a member of Darren's high school graduating class who was working in Pensacola, Fla., as a highway surveyor, was in critical condition after a motorist swerved and struck the 25-year-old. Steinbeck died two days later and was laid to rest on Tuesday while Byrd and the Brewers practiced at Maryvale Baseball Park.

"It was hard for me not to be there," Byrd said. "You just never know when something like that is going to happen."

Byrd, just 26 himself, has already dealt with his share of tragedy. His mother, Joan, succumbed to cancer about two months before the start of 2008 Spring Training.

"I thought it would be easy going back to doing what I love to do, but it was tough," Byrd said. "This is hard, too. I just don't like seeing things happen to young people, especially good people like [Steinbeck]."