But the closest he should come to the Red Sox clubhouse this season is as a guest of someone in the organization.
If Byrd steps onto the Fenway Park mound with his old-fashioned windup, while wearing a home uniform, Boston will be in trouble.
The last two seasons Byrd has pitched for the Red Sox, things have not ended well.
He was acquired from the Indians for a player to be named later (Mickey Hall) on Aug. 12, 2008, and started eight games down the stretch, going 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA.
Byrd made one appearance that postseason, pitching 3 1/3 innings of relief in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Rays at Fenway. It wasn’t pretty. He allowed four earned runs on five hits, giving up two home runs (to Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli) in a 9-1 rout. The Red Sox lost the series in seven.
The only reason the Red Sox needed Byrd in the first place was desperation. Tim Wakefield was injured, and Clay Buchholz forgot how to retire major league hitters.
It was a similar story last season. With Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka out of commission, and Brad Penny throwing batting practice every fifth day, the rotation needed a reinforcement.
Enter the Byrd Man.
The Red Sox signed the 38-year-old right-hander as a free agent on Aug. 5, 2009. The sequel – as most sequels go — was worse than the original. He made seven appearances (six starts) and finished 1-3 with a 5.82 ERA.
The Angels then swept the Red Sox out of October.
Coincidence or not, signing Paul Byrd is a bad sign. There was a time when seeing the veteran make a September start against the Yankees would have instilled confidence, but not anymore. Now having Byrd on the roster late in the season is a recipe for disaster, and a clear indication that something has gone horribly wrong for the Red Sox.
The same goes with any of these pitchers: Mike Hampton, Pedro Martinez, Eric Milton, Jarrod Washburn, Bartolo Colon, Tomo Ohka, Mark Prior, and Jason Schmidt. All of them — including Byrd — are free agents, without jobs. If they get a job this year, pray that it’s not with the Red Sox.
If the Red Sox reach a point where they have to call on a retread, it will mean their deep starting staff has been thinned, taxed or depleted. It will mean this season has taken an unexpected, unwanted and dangerous turn.
The Red Sox open the campaign with one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield (with Dice-K getting warm in the minors) are as nasty a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 as any team as had in recent memory. Opposing batters could be in for many long nights.
But championships are not won on paper.
The pitchers have to deliver from Opening Night until closing time. As long as the Red Sox record more 1-0 shutouts than 2-1 losses, Boston could end the season with a win in the World Series (no matter what Sports Illustrated says). If that happens, the Red Sox can invite Paul Byrd to Boston for a parade, and the duck boats can stop by Cheers along the way.
It’s been awhile since Frasier Crane was the toast of the town.
NESN.com ran down 25 things that need to happen for the Red Sox to win the World Series.