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Thursday, August 12, 2010
Byrd understands Phillips' motivation

By Bruce Levine

Brandon Phillips
Brandon Phillips talked the talk, but the Reds didn't back it up on the field as they were swept by the Cardinals.
Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd understands the type of intense competition that led to the recent Brandon Phillips-St. Louis Cardinals confrontation.

“When you have competition against the same teams over and over again, you start to develop a hate,” Byrd said. “It’s not like you want to kill them, but you want to beat them. Every time you go out there, you want the 10-run rule. You want to shut them out. I just think that’s healthy competition.”

Byrd, a friend of Phillips, understands the position he was taking by calling the Cardinals ‘whiners.’

“Brandon’s my boy,” Byrd said. “I think it was good what he said. He got it off his chest. He got it off his mind, and at the same time, the team showed they had his back.

“I give the Cardinals credit, they went out there and played a great series [sweeping the Reds in three games]. They did what they had to do.”

Byrd was asked about Phillips’ comments that compared to the Cards, he loves the Cubs.

“You know everybody loves the Cubs,” he said.

Cubs interim manager Alan Trammell had his own observations about the fight that ended up with Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker getting two-game suspensions, and Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto getting seven.

“I’m just speculating from my own thoughts and my own opinions on Brandon Phillips making those statements,” he said. “He’s trying to fire his guys up, and he’s going to stand by those comments. I think he has respect for [the Cardinals] We all do. I wouldn’t use that choice of words myself, but he stood up to it. This guy is a good player.”

I asked Trammell if he thought you had to back up a taunt with a victory.

“I think you do,” he said. “I wouldn’t have said it that way. He did. I don’t know if he was just trying to fire up his team. But maybe it backfired on him. But regardless of that series, it’s not over. Both teams know it. My feeling is it’s all strictly business, and whatever you can do to win, you do it.”

  • Manager Lou Piniella is expected to fly from Tampa to St. Louis on Friday to join the team after taking care of the needs of his 90-year-old mother.

  • First baseman Derrek Lee, who has been on the bereavement list since Monday due to the illness of his grandfather in Sacramento, is supposed to fly with his teammates to St. Louis. He’s eligible to come off the bereavement list on Friday.

  • Infielder Darwin Barney reported to the team from Triple-A Iowa, replacing Mike Fontenot on the roster. He’ll be the 15th rookie to play for the Cubs in 2010.

  • Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg, known for his subtle humor, used a unique way of informing Barney of his promotion.

    “He called my wife’s phone,” Barney said. “She was like, ‘Ryan who?’ he said, ‘Sandberg, let me talk to Darwyn.’ He then told me, ‘Congratulations, you’re going up to the big club tomorrow.’ I almost needed for him to say it again. I really wasn’t expecting it. But it was a nice surprise. “

    Barney, who was the primary shortstop for the Iowa Cubs, has played second base only on Opening Day and once last week.

    “After the game a week ago, it kind of opened my eyes,” Barney said. “I thought like something might happen, so I spent a solid hour one day with Ryno. We talked about every situation that could come up at second base. We went out and got a lot of work done. I took a lot of different feeds. The big difference is the double-play. Whenever they call my name, whatever they want me to, I’ll be ready.”