07/15/2004 4:44 PM ET
Byrd chats with fans online
Atlanta pitcher Paul Byrd made his return to the mound in June after missing all of 2003 due to Tommy John surgery. Since battling back from injury, the veteran has found a spot in the Braves' starting rotation. Byrd took some time to chat with fans about what it's like to be back in the game, the Braves' second-half keys to success and his life off the mound.
|"I need to keep pitching well and keep hitting my spots. I want to help this team win. I can't take anything for granted," said Paul Byrd. (John Bazemore/AP)
Base_Ball: Paul, how bad did you miss the game itself?
Paul Byrd: Even though I had a nice contract and was playing in the city that I wanted, not taking the field was tough. I love to compete and I hated not being able to be out there with the guys.
gesurkin: Which of your teammates do you get along with the most?
Byrd: Probably Russ Ortiz. We're totally different. I'm talkative and overly emotional. He's quiet. So we balance each other out pretty well.
leeanndemon: Paul! How do you deal with the Dead Day (the Wednesday after All-Star Game) and what do you do for fun?
Byrd: I went to the beach with my family and I planned a fishing trip. I caught some fish and got a sunburn.
byrdfan36: Hello, this is Dustin, how much longer do you see yourself playing baseball? Since you're a family man that wants to spend a lot more time with the wife and two sons.
Byrd: That's a tough question for me. I'll definitely play a couple more years and then after that, I don't know.
tesiv: What do you think Bobby Cox is going to do when Horacio Ramirez comes back?
Byrd: I don't know. But you can never have too many pitchers.
hazzel16: Hey Paul, what did you think when you heard you were going to the Braves?
Byrd: I was overwhelmed. I was very excited that they were giving me a second chance here. The fact that I live here made it even better.
Base_Ball_3: How close are you and the other pitchers to Johnny Estrada and Eddie Perez, since a big part of your success is understanding each other on the mound and behind the plate?
Byrd: We talk about the hitters a lot together and we all get along well. I'm closer to Eddie than Johnny. But I'm getting to know Johnny better as the year goes on.
tesiv: Which batter do you least like to face?
Byrd: Randall Simon and Tony Batista.
tesiv: Is there any difference in the way you pitch now than before you got hurt?
Byrd: I throw more cutters and less sinkers. Also I changed my grip on my changeup. But that's about it.
Base_Ball_4: What's the best thing about being back in a starting rotation?
Byrd: Getting to compete on the field with the guys. I don't feel like I'm stealing money anymore. I also like to hit. So I like being back in the National League.
dominilou: Hey Paul, so after your Tommy John surgery do you think your arm is stronger than it was before?
Byrd: Right now, no. I think it's about the same. But in the next month or two, I'm hoping to gain more velocity and strength.
biggestfanever: How does it feel to rebound after spending the entire year before on the DL?
Byrd: It feels good to rebound. It's not over yet. I need to keep pitching well and keep hitting my spots. I want to help this team win. I can't take anything for granted.
Base_Ball_2: Mr. Byrd, if you couldn't be a baseball player what would you be doing now?
Byrd: Probably some Christian ministry stuff. I'd like to do baseball camps, clinics or retreats. Those are things that would get me excited about going to work.
Base_Ball_4: What's the difference, in your own words, between pitching in the AL and in the NL?
Byrd: The DH is everything. Your ERA can be a whole half-run difference. Instead of facing a bad hitter, you're facing one of the team's best. I like the NL better because of the strategy it requires.
tomahawk77aa: Paul, congratulations on the year so far, it has been great to watch you come off the DL and pitch great. What do you think are the Braves' keys to success in the second half this year?
Byrd: Chipper Jones getting hot and Mike Hampton needs to get hot. Marcus Giles getting healthy. The pitching staff in general must do well. All of those things are keys to our success.
Brian_Bayer: Hi Paul, Brian B. here from Philly. Thanks for everything this past weekend and enjoy the new house when you move. All the best to my favorite player! See you in Sept!
Byrd: Thanks Brian and Dustin.
mlb_com_member: Do you think you'll make the All-Star Game next season?
Byrd: Yes, book your tickets and get your hotel now. Wear your feathers.
Base_Ball_4: What would you say is your relationship between you and your former teammates?
Byrd: Most are good. You can't get along with everybody. I care about the guys in the clubhouse and the relationships have been good.
Brian_Bayer: Will you be starting tomorrow's game?
Byrd: Yes. I'm looking forward to getting the second half of the season started on a positive note.
Base_Ball_2: Who is the funniest guy in the clubhouse to be around?
Byrd: That's a tough one. I'd say Eddie Perez. Between English and Spanish, he can really get on a roll.
gesurkin: What is your most memorable moment with the Braves?
Byrd: It would have to be the first game back. After I took a year and a half off, it was just great taking the field again. There was a time when I wasn't sure if that would ever happen.
lapidusb: What separates this Braves team from the Braves teams in the past?
Byrd: This team has less talent and more heart. Before it was veterans. Now we've got a lot of rookies and second year players stepping up.
tomahawk77aa: Are you interested in any other sports besides baseball?
Byrd: I like most sports. Lately, I've been getting into fantasy baseball and world championship poker.
biggestfanever: What went through your mind when you found out you had to undergo Tommy John surgery?
Byrd: Will I ever pitch again in the big leagues? Also I wondered if I would ever be what I was before.
luvyagilly: Paul, last year for my birthday you took a picture with me! I wanted to thank you for making my day extra sprecial. So glad to see you out on the field again.
Byrd: Hope I didn't break your camera. Thank you.
Base_Ball_2: Do either of your sons want to follow in your footsteps and play pro ball?
Byrd: My oldest son, Grayson loves sports, especially baseball and football. My other son, Colby, who is six, likes to cook and doesn't like sports at all.
Base_Ball_2: What kinds of things do you do during the offseason?
Byrd: I like to go out on the lake, read and spend time with my family.
Base_Ball_2: Hey Paul. Do you have any pets or good luck charms?
Byrd: I'm not superstitious. But I do have a dog named Hershey, who is a Portugese water dog. He loves to swim.
bravesfan3421: Paul, who do you think will be the Braves' MVP for the second half?
Byrd: I'll go out on a limb and say Charles Thomas
Byrd: Thanks everyone for chatting with me today. I've got to go stick my elbow in a bucket of ice.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.