Center fielder Marlon Byrd was released from the hospital Sunday after an overnight stay, but the Cubs confirmed that he had suffered multiple fractures as a result of Saturday’s beaning and placed him on the disabled list.
Needing some relief help after scratching Matt Garza from his scheduled start tonight, the Cubs called up right-hander Justin Berg to replace Byrd.
Byrd was struck near his left eye by an Alfredo Aceves fastball in the second inning of Saurday’s game against the Red Sox. The Cubs have no timetable for his return.
Aceves said he tried to get in touch with Byrd to apologize over the incident, but he’s so far been unsuccessful.
Reed Johnson will start in Byrd’s place tonight and figures to have a large role while Byrd is out. Tyler Colvin, who started 14 games in center field for the Cubs last year, was demoted to Triple-A last week after hitting .113 in 62 at-bats. Triple-A Iowa’s primary center fielder, Fernando Perez, is batting just .207/.319/.310 in 116 at-bats.
Top prospect Brett Jackson, who would have been a candidate to step in, has missed the last 11 days with a finger injury. He was hitting .295/.420/.518 with four homers and 13 steals for Double-A Tennessee before going down.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.