Marlon Byrd not hiding from PED mistake

Marlon Byrd not hiding from PED mistake
January 27, 2014, 9:00 am
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In time with the Pirates and Mets last season, Marlon Byrd hit .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs. (AP)

The Phillies have seen firsthand the impact PEDs can have on a player and a team.

Right after they won the 2008 World Series, J.C. Romero was suspended 50 games for testing positive for Androstenedione. He missed the first 50 games of 2009 and was never the same.

Then there was Freddy Galvis, who was surprisingly banned 50 games in the middle of 2012 for testing positive for Clostebol.

Antonio Bastardo, in the midst of a strong resurgence in 2013, also accepted a 50-game ban for his violations in connection with the Biogenesis scandal that also saw Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez suspended. That one may have hurt the most.

Enter Marlon Byrd.

Byrd, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal to become the Phillies' rightfielder, was suspended for 50 games in 2012 for testing positive for Tamoxifen, a chemical found in the medication Nolvadex, which Byrd was using to reduce the excess tissue in his breasts. Tamoxifen was banned by MLB and Byrd paid the price.

"I made an inexcusable mistake," Byrd said in a statement then. "Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance-enhancement reasons. I am mortified by my carelessness."

Despite returning from the suspension to put together the best year of his career in 2013, Byrd still gets the PED questions. But he doesn't respond in a defiant or abrupt way. He doesn't mind the line of questioning.

"Guys that don't like talking about it are the guys that were trying to beat the system. I wasn't," he said last Thursday in the Phillies' clubhouse. "I was just stupid, I took something, didn't do my due diligence, simple as that. So it's easy for me to talk about. First time I talked about it was easy.

"I went to New York, talked to the guys in spring training, it was easy. Talked about it all year long, through the offseason, when I signed, up to now. It's part of my life, it's part of my story."

Byrd's PED case sounds much different than most, and while it's impossible to get to the bottom of any player's true intentions from the day they first took the supplement that eventually saw their reputation tarnished, Byrd's motive, forthrightness and overall good attitude about the whole thing makes you believe him.

"It happened in 2012, so you assume that guys don't wanna ask about it," he said. "But if they do, I answer it."