CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday he isn’t worried about outfielder Marlon Byrd’s early-season struggles at the plate.
Byrd entered Wednesday’s game with one hit in his first 18 at-bats for an .056 average. Byrd drove in a run with a single in his second at-bat during the season opener and has gone hitless since. He batted .273 (18-for-66) during spring training.
“I think mechanically he’s got to be a little more linear to handle pitches,” Sveum said before Wednesday’s game. “But it’s still early yet. Guys get going a little bit later than other guys. We got to be a little bit better against right-hand pitching. That’s the bottom line. Our right-hand hitters, we have to take what the pitcher’s giving us. We got to be better at that on the outer part of a plate.”
Byrd has had varied success in the early goings of a season throughout his major league career, which began with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003. He had just two hits in his first six games in 2010, but both of those were home runs. In 2009, he hit safely in his first six games, which included a five-hit performance.
Sveum hopes to see Byrd, who was hitting eighth in the order Wednesday, make adjustments to his hitting approach.
“When, what date or whatever, you don’t put a time limit on it,” Sveum said. “There’s a time where there’s got to be adjustments to be made. Whether that’s a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks into the season. The bottom line is production is what this job is all about. We got to make adjustments. That’s how people survive in the big leagues.”
Byrd hit .276 with nine home runs, 35 RBIs in 119 games in 2011. He had a career-high 16-game hitting streak last season from April 28-May 16.