Byrd embracing leadership role

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

ST. LOUIS -- It was a routine grounder to shortstop in the seventh inning of a game the Phillies were leading and would win by a 5-1 score over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, but Marlon Byrd was busting it down first base.

He ran hard and was rewarded when first baseman Matt Adams failed to get his foot on the bag after catching the throw from Jhonny Peralta.

Adams was given an error, while Bryd earned himself first base.

The 36-year-old Byrd has become one of the leaders on the team and that play was an example of why he carries so much clout in the clubhouse.

His initial thought when he hit the grounder wasn’t surprising.

“I thought, ‘dammit, I hit a ground ball,’” Byrd said before Saturday’s game at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals. “But you hit the ball and you go as hard as you can and hope for the best.”

That is what happened and it added to Byrd’s leadership portfolio.

He is frequently talking the game in the clubhouse to the younger players, especially about hitting and Byrd has relished the role.

“It’s fun,” he said. “My whole life I have always been one of the young guys and I have learned from some amazing veterans.”

Now he’s embracing that same veteran role.

“I believe it’s about passing the torch,” he said.

Yet without backing his actions, the words become hollow, something Byrd clearly understands.

“I think when the veterans do it, the young guys understand what is expected of them,” Byrd said. “We have to lead by example."