Rising Apple Player of the Week: Marlon Byrd

By Matt Musico

The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

As we move on to our second installment of our 2013 Rising Apple Player of the Week honors, the award will stay in the outfield…which none of us would have probably guessed just a few weeks ago. Marlon Byrd is having a great spring as he competes for a roster spot, and it’s been a great week for him, as he’s put together a .444/.400/.556 line in the last seven days, which doesn’t include the three-run homer he slugged against Team Venezuela in Wednesday’s exhibition.

Feb 23, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd (6) connects fora double in the first inning during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Byrd was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to Big League camp on February 1st, which was less than two weeks before New York pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to PSL. It was pretty clear that Sandy Alderson made this move as a last ditch effort to find some right-handed power since he was unable to acquire Justin Upton or retain Scott Hairston, and it was still fuzzy as to whether or not Michael Bourn would don the Orange and Blue. Once the Bourn situation didn’t work out, it left the Mets in an interesting situation, with no proven MLB starters for the outfield on their roster. However, Terry Collins proclaimed Byrd was a favorite to not only make the team as part of a platoon, but to win a starting job, as long as he showed a glimpse of his past years.

Byrd has had success in the Big Leagues, and was selected to an All-Star game as recently as 2010, but this is the same player that was suspended for PEDs last season, while hitting a measily .210/.243/.245 in 2012. Being a starter is a whole other question, but he’s been putting together a strong enough spring to break camp with the team. In 17 Grapefruit League at-bats, the right-hander is hitting .412/.389/.529 with no homers, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Like I said before, Collins basically said he’s the favorite, so long as he shows just a sliver of his ability, and I would assume this showing so far has been more than enough.

Now, there is still three weeks left of Spring Training and plenty can happen, but he’s certainly making a case to be in the Big Leagues this season. I’m not so sure about a starting job, but it sure looks like the 36-year-old can still hack it. If he can continue to be consistent at the plate and provide some occasional power, I think Byrd could be a valuable part of the Mets outfield off the bench. Rumors say if he didn’t make the Major League team this spring, he would likely retire; if he keeps doing what he’s doing, it’s quite possible he’ll have one more year to enjoy under the summer sun.

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