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Byrd understands concerns, expects hits to fall

Byrd understands concerns, expects hits to fall

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Byrd understands concerns, expects hits to fall
CHICAGO -- Marlon Byrd is savvy enough to know we live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world.

The Cubs center fielder was batting .353 after April 14 but has since fallen into a 9-for-45 (.200) slump. He's hitting .265 in the No. 3 hole with five RBIs.

"Everyone's going to harp on certain spots, everyone can talk about No. 3 being a problem all year long," Byrd said Wednesday. "Or you could talk about it being a problem since I went cold."

Cubs manager Mike Quade has inserted Starlin Castro into the No. 3 hole for four games and on Wednesday, Jeff Baker was there for the series finale against the Rockies, although that game was postponed because of rain. Quade wasn't sure who would hit third when the Cubs open a four-game series in Arizona.

It's early, and neither Quade nor Byrd are worried.

"We're not 100 at-bats in," Byrd said. "I'm allowed to go through slumps. It happens. You start looking at guys in baseball all around and there are a lot of guys who are veterans who are moving a little slow right now.

"We can have this same conversation in September and it might be the complete opposite, and we'll be talking about how the three-hole is strong," he said. "It's one of those things where we have a manager who is not panicking because he knows I can play this game and he knows whoever he puts in the three-hole at some point will start hitting."

The Cubs are hitting. They entered Wednesday second in the National League with a .280 average, but they were 13th in home runs and RBIs. The bigger problem may be the pitching, as the Cubs are next-to-last with a 4.92 ERA.

"[The No. 3 hole] is not our worry," Byrd said. "Our worries are winning games, and one spot in the lineup is not going to win or lose the game at all."

The weather has not cooperated with rain nearly every home game in Chicago and the average game time temperature at 47 degrees. Two games have already been postponed by poor conditions.

"I don't use any excuses at all," Byrd said. "The weather's the weather, period. That's not an excuse."

In 2010, his first season in Chicago, Byrd batted .348 in the first month, which was unusual for him. He's normally a slow starter. He took over the three-hole duties when the Cubs traded Derrek Lee to Atlanta and batted .227 there.

It's a prime spot in the lineup.

"I don't mind the spotlight being on me, negative or positive," Byrd said. "I don't mind being the goat. It is what it is right now. I'm not getting the job done.

"[Tuesday] night, I go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts," he said. "I've never struck out this much in my career. I'm not scared that I'm not going to come out of it because I know I will because I've done it before. I need to snap out of it. I don't need to worry about the manager believing in me because I know he does. He knows this is a part of baseball. He's a baseball man."

This is the fifth season Byrd has worked with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, and the two have been looking at video of the outfielder's swing.

"I go in and tell Rudy, 'Hey, this is what I'm feeling,'" Byrd said. "There might be something I'm feeling that is completely wrong, or I'm trying to fix my hands and it's really my feet. It's a thing right now where I have to keep working through it and once I find it, I'll keep plugging along."

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