02/07/2013 10:43 PM ET
Bourn or no Bourn, Byrd eyes spot on Mets' roster
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Out here, Marlon Byrd is starting in right field and batting fourth for a Mexico team that's playing against the Dominican Republic in Thursday's Caribbean Series final. Back in the U.S., reports continue to run rampant regarding the Mets' interest in signing free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
Byrd signed a Minor League deal with the Mets earlier this month, and his chances of making the club out of Spring Training will take a hit if Bourn indeed decides to make Flushing, N.Y., his new home.
But Byrd's rooting interest is different than you might think.
"I want him to sign," Byrd said. "He's a good friend. We were in Philly together [while Bourn was coming up through the Minors and Byrd was in the big leagues]. I know free agency is what you work for, and it's supposed to be a happy time in your life. It's got to be very stressful not signing yet. But he has one of the best agents in the game [Scott Boras], so everything will work out for him."
Spring Training will decide whether it works out for Byrd, the 35-year-old right-handed hitter who was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2010 but is coming off a 50-game suspension.
For now, Byrd is expected to compete with Andrew Brown for the fifth-outfielder's job. The Mets have three left-handed-hitting starting outfielders in Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter, plus a capable right-handed-hitting reserve in Collin Cowgill.
Byrd doesn't sound very interested in starting the 2013 season at Triple-A.
"I have one goal, and that's to make the team," Byrd said. "I have no goals other than that."
In 11 Major League seasons, spent with five organizations, Byrd has hit .278 with a .336 on-base percentage, slugging .413 while mostly playing center field. Last year, he hit just .210 with one homer and nine RBIs in 47 games for the Cubs and Red Sox. Then, in June, he was suspended after testing positive for tamoxifen, a medicine designed to block the effects of estrogen in the body.
The resulting inactivity prompted Byrd to play in Latin America for the first time this offseason. He batted .318 with 16 homers and 46 RBIs in the Mexican Pacific League, then came into the championship game 6-for-21 with six RBIs for the Yaquis de Obregon.
"After my suspension, I didn't get picked up by another team and I felt like I needed to get some at-bats, work on my game," Byrd said. "There are a lot of things that, when I got my release from Boston, didn't feel right -- my swing, my mechanics. I wanted to play more baseball and work on my game.
"Playing the game always helps, and sitting at home doing nothing doesn't really help."
KC's Mendoza named MVP of Caribbean Series
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Kansas City Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza, suiting up for Mexico's Yaquis de Obregon in the Caribbean Series, was named the Most Valuable Player of the six-game, double-round-robin portion.
The 29-year-old right-hander was a no-brainer after pitching 13 1/3 scoreless innings in his two starts. On Wednesday night at Estadio Sonora, Mendoza had a no-hitter through seven and wound up giving up just two hits in 7 1/3 innings, sending Mexico to Thursday's championship game against the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido.
Prior to the game, the Caribbean Series All-Stars were announced. They are as follows:
• Manager: Audo Vicente (DR)
• Catcher: Francisco Pena (DR)
• Pitcher: Mendoza
• First base: Donell Linares (DR)
• Second base: Jose Ramirez (DR)
• Third base: Mario Lisson (Venezuela)
• Shortstop: Miguel Tejada (DR)
• Outfielder: Marlon Byrd (Mexico)
• Outfielder: Ricardo Nanita (DR)
• Outfielder: Doug Clark (Mexico)
• Designated hitter: Barbaro Canizares (Puerto Rico)
• Right-handed pitcher: Mendoza
• Left-handed pitcher: Efraim Nieves (Puerto Rico)
• Relief pitcher: David Reyes (Mexico)
• Closer: Saul Rivera (Puerto Rico)
Caribbean Series may return to Miami
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Caribbean Baseball Confederation president Juan Francisco Puello Herrera would like to see the Caribbean Series return to Miami and is in talks with the Marlins about utilizing their new stadium in Little Havana, Puello confirmed to MLB.com on Thursday.
Talks, however, are still in the infancy stages, and such a move would not take place any time soon -- probably not within the next four years.
The 1990 Caribbean Series took place at the Orange Bowl, located where Marlins Park sprung up last year, then moved to Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium, also since demolished, in '91. Those were rough times for the Caribbean Series, and Puello would like to recoup the event's image in the city with a heavy Latin influence.
One possibility is to include Miami in the Caribbean Series rotation, which currently consists of the four nations playing in the tournament -- Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
"We've been in conversations through our representatives over there," Puello said in Spanish. "I think that, with a centrally located ballpark like they have, if we promote it right, things could go better over there."
One motivating factor could be the return of Cuba to the Caribbean Series.
Cuba hasn't been in the tournament since 1961, shortly after Fidel Castro gained power, and though chatter has surfaced the last few years about a possible return, that is still a long shot. If Cuba does return to the Caribbean Series, Puello said, it would have to be on a permanent basis.
"I can't allow Cuba to participate in just one Caribbean Series," Puello said. "They have to come every year to the Caribbean Series and stay permanently."
Caribbean Series returns to Venezuela in 2014
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Next up, Venezuela.
For 2014, as part of its rotation through the four nations involved, the Caribbean Series returns to Margarita, a large island on the northeast coast of Venezuela and home to Estadio Guatamare. The Caribbean Series debuted at the ballpark in 2010, with the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido being crowned champions.
Since its inaugural year in 1949, the Caribbean Series has been held in Venezuela 14 times, and only twice -- in 1970 with Magallanes, and in 2006 with Caracas -- has it won the title as the host country.
"With the experience we had in 2010, we're sure we can put together a quality event that can surpass anything done in Venezuela in recent years," Venezuelan Professional Baseball League president Jose Grasso said in Spanish on Thursday. "The eight-team [Venezuelan] League, especially the local Bravos de Margarita, will work very hard to organize the event."
The Caribbean Series, taking place at the new Estadio Sonora in North Mexico this year, will rotate to Puerto Rico in 2015 and the Dominican Republic in '16.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show," and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.