September 21, 2004

This Byrd should fly south for winter

Marlon Byrd might benefit from playing winter ball in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, where there's a healthy blend of Latin-American stars and players on the rise.

Instead of Arizona, Puerto Rico or Mexico, where players tend to be too young or too familiar, what if Marlon Byrd spent the winter playing in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, lacing up his cleats next to some of the best players in the game?

Miguel Cabrera, Melvin Mora and Magglio Ordonez, among others, all played in Venezuela once the Fish fried the Yankees. And in the Dominican, Miquel Tejada, David Ortiz and Rafael Furcal kept their games sharp through winter.

Byrd isn’t Hispanic, but it doesn’t matter. Neither is Eric Byrnes, outfielder with the A’s, who's a former MVP of the DWL.

Traditionally, the Phils like to send young North American players to Arizona. Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd spent last fall there. Older fringe players, like Jason Michaels and Lou Collier, will play in Puerto Rico or Mexico.

Marlon would certainly benefit from time away from his teammates and in a less instruction-oriented situation. Who knows; Byrd could even become next-year’s resurrection story, like Giants third baseman Pedro Feliz this season. His .342 avg. with seven homers in DWL lead to a breakout season with San Francisco.

Giants 3B Pedro Feliz stepped into a starting role this season after a strong winter with Cibao Gigantes of the Dominican League, where he hit .342 with seven home runs.


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