Released Marlon Byrd will pay no financial penalty for bust
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 26, 2012 10:32PM
Cleanup hitter Alfonso Soriano gets drilled by a Dillon Gee pitch in the fourth inning. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 28, 2012 6:37AM
Marlon Byrd, the former Cubs outfielder, who got just three extra-base hits for two teams after admittedly ingesting a banned performance enhancer, essentially pays no penalty for the positive test that was announced by MLB on Monday.
What’s more, neither the Cubs nor the Boston Red Sox — who released Byrd this month after he went 30-for-143 (.210) for both teams combined — recoup any of the $6.5 million he’s being paid this year, despite what by rule is an unpaid 50-game suspension.
The Cubs wind up the biggest losers in that equation because as part of the April trade for Michael Bowden, they sent cash to Boston equaling all of Byrd’s remaining salary, minus the prorated major-league minimum.
According to multiple sources, the fact that Byrd had been released by the time his suspension took effect meant the balance on his contract turned into termination pay, creating a ‘‘closed door’’ on his 2012 salary because the contract is already considered paid off.
The Cubs would have had little standing for a claim, either way, because they technically were no longer paying his contract as soon as the trade was made.
Meanwhile, in part because he didn’t retire and is considered an active, if unemployed, player — unlike Manny Ramirez last year — Byrd is allowed to exploit a gray area of the drug policy and serve his suspension now.
Byrd, who is believed to have tested positive after the trade to Boston, was rumored to be weighing offers from multiple teams at the time the violation was announced.
According to several sources in and around the clubhouse, Byrd was not nearly the agreeable, gregarious player he became when the cameras were on him, and many teammates welcomed the trade.
He also has had run-ins with MLB officials in recent years over his insistence on employing the nutrition and training services of convicted steroid dealer Victor Conte of BALCO fame.
Byrd, 34, released a statement Monday through the Major League Baseball Players Association.
‘‘I made an inexcusable mistake,’’ the statement read. ‘‘Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition, and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance-enhancement reasons.
‘‘I am mortified by my carelessness, and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season.’’
Third baseman Ian Stewart said the cortisone shot he got last week for his ailing left wrist doesn’t seem to have made a difference in the discomfort and he’s left hoping for sudden and significant enough improvement to avoid exploratory surgery.
‘‘That’s probably the next step if there is one,’’ said Stewart, who isn’t sure how long he’ll give the process before taking that option. ‘‘Probably not long.’’