Appreciative Byrd sees bright future for Cubs

Appreciative Byrd sees bright future for Cubs

CHICAGO -- Marlon Byrd returned to Chicago on Thursday, less than a week after the Cubs dealt the struggling center fielder to Boston.

Byrd was on the city's south side, as he and his new teammates began a four-game series with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Byrd, who was traded to the Red Sox on Saturday for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named, had nothing but good things to say about the Cubs organization. He said he was especially thankful for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and manger Dale Sveum trading him to another historic organization.

"To go from Chicago to Boston and to not be losing anything in fans, not be losing anything in tradition ... just all around it's great for me," Byrd said. "I come in here, get a chance to help this team out and win and get to the playoffs."

The 34-year-old Byrd said he expected to get traded, knowing that 2009 first-round Draft pick Brett Jackson is the Cubs' future in center field, but he expected it to be closer to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But Byrd's slow start -- he had only two hits in his first 43 at-bats -- and Boston's need for another outfielder made it happen sooner.

Byrd, who spent two full seasons in Chicago, said he believes the Cubs are heading in the right direction. Although it might take a few years to get there, Byrd said, once they do, he thinks the Cubs will remain a perennial contender.

"It's going to be a couple years," Byrd said. "I said it when Theo came over: My guess was about 2014, 2015, they're going to be ready to contend every year. Not just be good that year -- every year. From that point on, start a dynasty, kind of like the Phillies did, kind of like the Braves did."

While Byrd likely won't be with the Cubs when that time comes, he played a key role in changing a clubhouse culture that had gotten complacent.

Byrd helped younger players like Jackson and fellow outfielder Tony Campana in Spring Training, while fellow veterans Ryan Dempster and Reed Johnson spoke highly of Byrd's professionalism following the trade, which Byrd appreciated.

"My big thing was, when I did leave the organization, hopefully they were going to be better off than when I got there," Byrd said. "If I left a couple of footsteps and imprints, that's great."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.