Paul Byrd had his first in-person chat with the Boston media before the game. Byrd, 37, is a righthander and was 7-10 with the Indians this season, with a 4.53 ERA in 22 games. He has a career record of 104-91 and a career ERA of 4.37.
“I’m still spinning a little bit,” said Byrd. “I’m excited to put on this uniform and walk through the clubhouse and meet some of the guys. They got a great thing going here and it’s nice to be a part of it.”
Byrd, by the way, will wear No. 36, and Kevin Cash will switch to No. 30.
“I owe him something,” said Byrd.”I hear he’s a boots guy so I’ll have to get him a pair of boots, maybe a watch. It was real nice. I don’t know if the number is important to him but it’s been my number for a while so it’s awfully nice of him to give it up.”
Byrd added that he had no superstitions about the number 36, just that he liked it and had worn it for a long time. “It’s involved in some of my passwords on the computer so if I switched numbers I’d have to change all that up — no good.”
Byrd has played for Terry Francona before, in Philadelphia, and made the All-Star team in 1999 while playing for Francona.
“I’m a huge Terry Francona fan,” said Byrd. “Great clubhouse, relaxed. His one rule is just that you play as hard as you can and if you don’t, you’ll get yelled at, and I’ve always loved that and learned a lot from him in Philadelphia.
“About 10 years ago, like to the same week, he picked me up off waivers when I was with the Braves and gave me a chance to start against Randy Johnson. I ended up winning and I kind of got my start there. So I’ve got a little fondness in my heart for Terry ’cause he gave me my shot.”
Byrd’s ERA is the best in the American League since the break (1.24) and trails only Arizona’s Randy Johnson (0.66) for best in the majors among pitchers with at least 20 innings since the All-Star Game. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, including a complete-game win at Toronto in his last appearance on Aug. 9. He’ll get his first start in a Red Sox uniform on Friday.
Byrd welcomes the charged baseball atmosphere in Boston.
“I want to be counted on,” he said. “People ask me ‘Are you excited about going to a team where there’s a lot of pressure there?’ The alternative to that is taking the mound when games don’t count, and you’re not in anything. That’s no fun at all. So I love the pressure. I’ve always responded to the pressure.It doesn’t mean I’ll do it here but it means that in the past I have a history of pitching in big games and doing well and so that’s what I want to do.
“I want to get there and compete. I want the hear the crowd yell, I want the game to be on the line, I want the games to mean things.
“It’s getting late in my career, I’ve never won a World Series, I’ve never pitched in a World Series. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little boy and it feels like I’m in a place where that can happen.”
Byrd had to get over the Indians’ 4-3 AL championship series loss of last year before coming to Boston. He said it took him 5 minutes.