Byrd set to resume career with Red Sox

Byrd set to resume career with Sox

BOSTON -- Roughly one month ago, Paul Byrd thought he might be slipping into retirement. He had stayed in shape, but no teams had called, and the family man was set to enjoy more time with his wife and kids.

But he finally did get a call from a familiar team -- the Boston Red Sox.

After pitching his way back to game shape in the Minor Leagues over the past few weeks, the 38-year-old Byrd's career will officially continue on Sunday afternoon when he draws the start for the finale of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

All along, the Red Sox expected to utilize Byrd in some capacity during September, when rosters were expanded. But with Tim Wakefield experiencing recurring pain in his back, Boston was down a starter.

Enter Byrd, who was originally acquired by the Red Sox in August 2008, going 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA in eight starts.

"His last outing, he threw seven innings," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He feels really good about himself. I've only gone back and forth on voicemail with him, but I know the guy. I've talked to him. He feels like he's found a changeup that gives him more confidence. We know what we'll get. He won't run away from competition. And more often than not, he'll give you a good chance to win a game."

Byrd made two starts in the Gulf Coast League and two for Triple-A Pawtucket, going 0-2 with a 4.00 ERA. In his career, he is 108-93 with a 4.38 ERA.

Aside from all the familiar faces Byrd remembers from his couple of months with the Sox, he will see another old friend when he arrives at Fenway on Sunday in former batterymate Victor Martinez.

Though Jason Varitek will catch Byrd's first game back with the Red Sox, Martinez is excited to renew acquaintances with the crafty right-hander.

"He's a warrior. He'll go out and give his best," said Martinez. "He gives the team a chance to win the game."

Can Byrd still be effective, even after the long layoff?

"Definitely," said Martinez. "You know what, he's a veteran guy. He knows what he's doing out there. I really believe that he's going to give us a pretty good chance to win games."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Paul Byrd (11-12, 4.60 ERA in 2008)
The right-hander is back in the Major Leagues, kicking off his second stint with the Red Sox. Byrd has held opponents to a .276 average in his career. This will be career start No. 251 for Byrd. The Red Sox signed Byrd to a Minor League contract on Aug. 5.

TOR: RHP Roy Halladay (13-7, 3.03 ERA)
Halladay allowed eight runs -- seven earned -- in a 12-7 loss to the Rays on Monday at Rogers Centre. That snapped a streak of 78 consecutive (non-injured) starts in which Halladay did not give up more than five earned runs, dating back to June 5, 2007, when he gave up seven earned runs, also against the Rays. He allowed 12 hits, which tied a career high, and walked two batters, striking out eight. He has now allowed 11 earned runs over his past two starts -- the highest total over a two-run span since he gave up 16 between May 5-10, 2007. Halladay is 1-1 in two starts -- one a complete game -- against Boston this season with an ERA of 3.21.

Tidbits
The Red Sox have won nine of their past 12 games. ... The Sox have won seven straight against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. ... Boston has produced double-digit hits nine times in their past 12 games. ... Alex Gonzalez is hitting .400 (8-for-20) over his past six games.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 10-7, 3.60) at Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 6-7, 6.61), 7:08 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 14-5, 3.80) at Rays (Matt Garza, 7-9, 3.95), 7:08 p.m. ET

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