BOSTON -- As expected, the Red Sox designated outfielder Marlon Byrd for assignment to make room on the roster for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is coming off the disabled list Saturday to make his first start in more than a year.
Byrd, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on April 21, hit .270 with a home run and seven RBIs in 34 games with Boston. He was brought in amid a rash of injuries to the outfield and started 27 times for the Red Sox.
“Marlon came here and kind of saved the day and now he’ll more than likely be with another team,” manager Bobby Valentine said Saturday at Fenway Park. “Hopefully it’s not in our division whose competing against us. He did a good job while he was here, we just needed room for a starting pitcher for today.”
The Byrd trade was made eight days after Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a right shoulder subluxation and two days before Boston placed replacement Jason Repko on the disabled list with a left shoulder sprain. Left fielder Carl Crawford was already on the disabled list recovering from left wrist surgery. Outfielders Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney all suffered injuries in May, which allowed Byrd to remain a regular.
McDonald returned from a right oblique strain earlier this week. With Matsuzaka coming back and the club needing to open up a roster spot, it came down to Byrd and McDonald, Valentine said. The manager said that much of the decision was based on the fact that McDonald has a familiarity with the coaches and players, and that he provides more pop against left-handed pitching.
Also playing into the decision was the emergence of Daniel Nava as a standout atop the lineup. After a 2-for-5 showing in the series opener against Washington on Friday night, Nava was hitting .311 with two homers and 19 RBIs in 28 games since being recalled from Triple-A on May 10. Although the sample size is not large, Nava is leading the team with a .955 OPS.
“When we got Marlon there was a real need for outfield depth, and Daniel has filled in very nicely there. He’s done a great job,” Valentine said. “Of course, Darnell coming back, it was kind of a decision of Darnell or Marlon.
“When you’re a good switch hitter it is an advantage," Valentine said, referring to Nava. "It looks like he is swinging the bat well from both sides. He’s hit some balls hard from the right side with a real small sample as a quality at-bat.”
Nava is batting in the leadoff spot for the seventh time Saturday against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez.
In other clubhouse news:
* Crawford played catch Saturday for the second day in a row and took some swings in the batting cage. Valentine said “he’s progressing” and that he “looked good” throwing. However, there remains no timetable for Crawford to begin a rehab stint.
* The same can be said of Ellsbury, who has been throwing and running and has hit off a tee for five days in a row. There have been no setbacks and Ellsbury is in great shape, Valentine said.
* As for what to expect from Matsuzaka on Saturday, Valentine offered a sentiment many Red Sox fans have had over the years.
“I would like to get it over with actually because I have no idea what to expect,” he said. “I have seen him a little on film, but never seen him on the big stage.”
* The Red Sox activated rehabbing outfielder Ryan Kalish from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket and transferred Repko to the 60-day DL.