Byrd's solid pitching helped Cleveland close out the dreaded Yankees in four games a week ago. Now, he's on the mound in another Game 4 today at Jacobs Field with the chance to put the Indians within one game of going to the World Series.
Here's what Byrd had to say in yesterday's interview with reporters:
Question: Is it easier to pitch at Jacobs Field than it would be at Fenway Park? How are they different?
PAUL BYRD: I think they're pretty similar: Short left field, higher wall, Fenway being a little shorter. But they're both -- I'll say hitters' parks, and something you have to be conscious of. I guess in a big situation you have to be conscious of the short left field, although I think Boston is a little shorter.
Q: You had a high ERA here at Jacobs Field, is there any particular reason for that?
PAUL BYRD: I don't know the answer to that, other than I had two absolute disaster outings here. I had a game against the Yankees, which I just got killed. And then I had a game against Seattle where I did not have good stuff and just gave up, I don't know what it was, seven, eight, nine runs in a couple innings. I think that hurt me.
But overall I'm not afraid to pitch at Jacobs Field, and I'm looking forward to it.
Q: I was wondering if you could take me through the double pump with (the Yankees' Hideki) Matsui last week, what kind of conversation you had with the umpire. When did you decide to do that and what you took away from that discussion? I don't remember who the umpire was, when a guy can step out and when your delivery is actually initiated?
PAUL BYRD: Yeah, Fieldin Culbreth was the umpire, we call him Cubby. Yeah, I did a double pump to Matsui when he didn't like that, and the umpire called time out, and I said, hey, you can't do it. You can't just call time out because he didn't like my motion. He said, well, I gave him time out. I said, well, if that's the case you could give him a time out right before I'm ready to deliver the ball. He said, no, I wouldn't do that but if you just start your motion I've got no problem with it.
I disagree, but I went back and did the double pump again and Matsui didn't step out, so maybe I should have triple pumped (laughter). I didn't have a problem with it after that. I think it was all right.
Q: Could you just give us some background on hooking up with Kelly Shoppach? Have any superstitions come about from your working with him?
PAUL BYRD: Yeah, I don't know how to answer that. Kelly before the season was better at throwing out runners at second base. I don't throw very hard, so I think it was a situation where if Wedge needed to give Vic a day off, I was the logical pitcher for him to do so because I don't throw very hard. My delivery at home, I try to be quick, but there's some pitches, like I was trying to learn a split, where it was real important that I stayed back over the rubber. So I wasn't real quick to home. So that made Shoppach the logical choice.
We hooked up a couple times and it worked. It was never my intention for him to be my catcher all through the season. It's worked out okay. I call Victor Martinez my personal first baseman because I like for him to feel good about the situation. Vic is my locker buddy, we locker right next to each other. There was never at any time any sort of rough edges between us. It's all been very, very good.
Shoppach has done a good job. I was real happy with Shoppach catching me in the playoffs, Eric not changing anything. I think that shows Eric Wedge's loyalty, which I rank right up there with Bobby Cox. I think he's a tremendously loyal manager, and that's one of the ways you get a lot out of your players is being loyal to them. I was very happy he went with Kelly Shoppach, and I was very happy that Kelly delivered with a couple doubles, and I think that was not expected but welcomed.
Q: Would you talk about how you developed your wind up, the old fashioned, over the arms, can you talk about how that developed?
PAUL BYRD: Yes.
I started doing that in '02 when I was coming back from labrum surgery. I had labrum surgery in 2000, and my shoulder was bothering me. I don't say this to convert anybody, but I'm a Christian and I just prayed -- I could see the writing on the wall. I couldn't throw the ball very hard. So I went out when nobody was around, and I just prayed and said, hey, I'm not looking at You here for healing or anything like that, but I'd love to stay in the game. I don't know how that's possible because I'm throwing 81 and I need to do something to shake it up and be deceptive.
So I started swinging my arms kind of as a trial and error thing out on the back mound. Next day I took that into batting practice. Hitters said they didn't like it at all, they couldn't pick up the ball. I thought maybe I'm onto something here, and the motion in my delivery before I started gave me a little momentum, and I think that's helped, helped me through the years be deceptive and is kind of a neat way how I was able to stay in the game just by doing something totally different.
Q: Spring training 2002?
PAUL BYRD: Yeah, '02, and I had a good year with Kansas City, but I still had some significant shoulder pain. I never really threw the ball hard I'll say, but it did give me a little bit more zip on my fastball. Carlos Beltran was one of those guys that hit off me in batting practice, and they came over to me and said, hey, you may want to stick with that. It's really hard to pick up the ball.
So that's where it all started. Now that's sort of my trademark, and in a very average career, that's something that I've become known for a little bit.
Q: Looking back at your last start, in what way was that kind of a microcosm of your season?
PAUL BYRD: I think just grinding it out, guys on base, who knows what's going to happen, getting somebody up in the fourth inning to warm up, and then it all working together at the end. That's been kind of a trademark -- not trademark, in some sense that's the way my career has gone, has just been trying to grind it out with less than average stuff and make something out of not too much.
But that being said, you know, it's been fun, moving the ball in and out and using my defense and using my catcher and having to be creative with what God has given me.
Q: When you speak about Eric Wedge's level of loyalty, how did you that demonstrate itself to you?
PAUL BYRD: Well, I just think about him going with me in the first series. I mean, he didn't have to do that. I think the whole world wanted C.C. out on the mound, everybody except for my mom, Eric Wedge and my wife (laughter).
So the fact that he went with me I think, it made me feel really good. I can sit there and get angry and say, I don't get any respect and I want to prove everybody wrong. That's really not me. I'd rather be focused on proving a few people right, and he was one of them, and I really wanted to go out there and give our team a good game, and if we won the game -- I thought it was imperative that we start out this series with C.C. and Fausto, which we have at full strength, and that was another thing I thought about was, if I can win this game, it can really help our team out for the next series.
I've always appreciated Eric's loyalty. Even after some rough starts that I've had here in Cleveland, he has always had my back. You know, and if he had anything to say, he's always said it to me first before he said it to anybody else. And those kind of things, it gets passed around when people see how a manager treats his players, and you start to gain respect for somebody, you start to -- I don't want to say play harder, but you really start to get the most out of your players when you have that kind of atmosphere.
Q: You have the lowest walks per nine innings in the league and the highest hits per nine innings in the league. Stating the obvious, what's the philosophy that leads you to end up like that?
PAUL BYRD: Well, I want you to earn your way to first base. I don't mind giving up the most hits in the league, as long as I'm not going to give out -- as long as I'm going to give out the fewest free passes in the league. I think my walks will go up, but I won't challenge the hitter as much 3 2 or 3 1. I'll pick and then try and take a walk and then try, as opposed to hey, I'm going to come right at you. I'll take my chances. The way I look at it is, even if somebody hits .300 off me, they still get out seven out of ten times. And if I don't walk you, I'll take that all day long.
It doesn't bother me, and it's something I keep working at.
Q: Tim (Wakefield) is making his first postseason start this year and you've already got one under your belt. Can you talk about the advantage, maybe nerves, confidence, for a pitcher going into his first start?
PAUL BYRD: I don't know if there is any there. If he was a rookie I'd say maybe there was an advantage, but he's not. Tim is a great pitcher and he's got more playoff experience than me. I told him if he'll bring his personal catcher, I'll bring mine and we'll do a little battle.
I respect him because he's not a guy that throws 95, and this may be the slowest throwing right handed match up of all time in the postseason (laughter). It'll be fun to lock horns with Tim.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.