Fire Brand flies along with Paul Byrd

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Byrd. Byrd, acquired from the Cleveland Indians during the latter part of the 2008 season, served the Red Sox very capably out of the back of the rotation spot and was an integral part in getting the team all the way to a seventh game in the ALCS. Read on…

Why have you opted to wait until the middle of the season (if at all) to continue pitching instead of getting into spring training with a team?

I have 2 boys who need their father home more and a wife who feels like a single Mom for much of the year.  So i know all families are different but I need to take the first part of the year off.  Retirement is staring me straight in the face!

Are you open to playing with any team or do you want to just play for a contender at this point?

Contender.

Obviously this is a topic you have talked to death, but how has being named in the Mitchell Report affected you? Do you feel that the Mitchell Report is a valid document? Why?

Being named in the Mitchell Report has been strange.  Some good things have come out of it and some bad.  I feel that some things in the Mitchell Report are valid but I do know that some things were not true and words like “alleged” were used in certain circumstances to protect different parties involved.  So I am not a fan of hearsay or damaging people’s reputations on rumors and he said she said conversations etc.  An example is the fact that I never once said that I began to “take HGH because of a pituitary tumor” (still no reporter or lawyer can find out where that statement was quoted from) but that is in the Mitchell Report – the truth is I discovered the tumor working with MLB’s drug policy and an Indians doctor while pursuing a TUE. Again, because I was working with MLB since the beginning of their program, I was confused at being named in the report.        

You bring inspiration to everyone that you don’t have to throw as fast as Randy Johnson to pitch efficiently in the big leagues. What do you credit to your success? How did you develop your impeccable control?

Thanks for your compliment about my fastball.  Now, after years of embarrassment, I love the fact that it is slow because when I talk to kids, I give them hope.  I credit my success to God giving me opportunities in life and learning to pitching on both sides of the plate.  A good change-up helps too.  It is the equalizer.  Especially when your fastball is slow.

How did you start doing the “old-school” windup?

I started the Old School wind up after praying to stay in baseball in the spring of 02′ with the Royals.  I write about that in Free Byrd in a chapter called God is my pitching coach.  Man I sound like a weirdo!

Can we hear one of your favorite stories to tell from your career in pro baseball? (Of course, you can remove names/teams if you want, and no worries if it’s R rated, the spicier the better!)

One of my favorite stories in baseball happened in AAA with the Mets when I was sick, going in to close the game, had to go to the bathroom, accidentally sat on my jersey on the toilet in between innings, crapped on myself and then finished the game with a soiled uniform feeling horrible.  Even though there was no foreign substance on the ball, I tell everyone I was pitching dirty that night.

Which player that you were a teammate of do you feel was/is tremendously underrated and why?

The game has changed over the years and has become very offensive minded.  So in my opinion, almost all great defenders with poor bats are usually underrated.  A guy like John McDonald comes to mind.  He saves so many runs in the field and yet has trouble keeping an everyday job at shortstop.

Do you plan to stay in the game after you officially retire as a player (coach, broadcaster, etc.) or are you going to leave the game behind?

I will have to stay in the game of baseball somehow.  Right now I am coaching my kids and have turned down some broadcasting opportunities because I need to be home for a while.  I hope those broadcasting opportunities don’t go away…

Did John Smoltz call you to talk about becoming a Red Sox? If so, what did you tell him? If not, what advice would you give him about Boston? Do you think Smoltz is a good fit for Boston?

The Red Sox trainers asked me a question or two about John.  I told them there are few better on the field and none better in the locker room.  They already knew that though as John’s reputation stands for itself.  I told John he will love it in Boston.  From the fans to the team to the people behind the scenes, Boston is a great place to play.  The fans are literally out of their minds!

If you could tell Red Sox fans one thing, what would it be?

Thanks for cheering for my 82 mph fastball!!!

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