Byrd’s affiliation with Conte troubles Selig
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org March 5, 2011 10:42PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — Major League Baseball’s concerns about Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd’s ongoing association with convicted steroid dealer Victor Conte goes all the way to the top.
‘‘We’ve talked to him, and he knows how we feel,’’ commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday in Mesa. ‘‘It’s not a situation that makes me very happy.’’
Byrd — who sought out Conte three years ago, long after Conte’s BALCO-related conviction and jail term — is the only major-league player working with Conte.
Byrd, who says he follows a supplements and training regimen prescribed by Conte, never has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs under MLB’s program and never has been accused of using banned substances.
Earlier this winter, Byrd said he believes in Conte, who claims he is reformed and is trying to be a leader in legal methods of improving athletic performance.
Byrd’s response to Selig’s comments: ‘‘We talked about it in 2009. I mean, it’s 2011.’’
Selig, making his annual HoHoKam stop as he tours camps throughout Arizona and Florida, said he doesn’t foresee another team that trains in Florida making a move to the Cubs’ spring-training site when the team opens a new complex in the next three years.
The city of Mesa hopes to use the HoHoKam-Fitch Park complexes to attract a second team to the city, and one more team joining the recent Florida exodus appears to be the likeliest possibility. Right now, 15 teams train in each state.
‘‘I don’t know of anybody in Florida who is thinking about Arizona,’’ Selig said.
The way right-hander Randy Wells sees it, he’s not pitching for a job this spring as much as he’s pitching for an address.
‘‘I’m either going to make the team, or I’ll be in Triple-A; I’ve got options left,’’ he said. ‘‘The way I’m looking at it, yeah, it’d suck to go to Triple-A, but there are worse things. At least you’ve got a job, you know? I’m seriously looking at it like that.’’
If he keeps pitching like he has in his first two outings, including three strong innings Saturday, he likely can count on keeping his Chicago address.
Right-hander Matt Garza was back at work without limitations a day after getting drilled in the back by a line drive during a start Friday against the Kansas City Royals.
◆ The Cubs, who got their third stolen base of the spring against the San Diego Padres, are looking to run more this season.
‘‘[Coach] Bobby Dernier says, ‘Time to go, guys, time to run,’ ’’ Byrd said. ‘‘We can run. Fuke [Kosuke Fukudome] and Sori [Alfonso Soriano] can run. I can run. We didn’t show it last year, so now it’s time to pick it up a little bit.’’