Simulated game a real thrill for Byrnes
Outfielder successfully tests hamstring, could play Tuesday
TUCSON -- To Eric Byrnes, it felt like a playoff game.
In reality, it was a simulated Minor League game Sunday designed to help him test whether his left hamstring could handle running the bases in a game situation.
To Byrnes, the answer was yes. Whether the D-backs agree enough to let him see his first real game action since June 30 of last year on Tuesday against the A's in Phoenix remains to be seen.
"I'm hoping Tuesday," Byrnes said. "That's what I'm lobbying for. They want to see how I respond tomorrow."
The D-backs are understandably cautious with Byrnes, who played in just 52 games last season, the first in a three-year, $30 million contract he signed in August 2007. Byrnes first experienced problems with his hamstring on the day before Spring Training opened last year.
Trying to play through the injury, Byrnes wound up injuring both hamstrings and then, in June, tore the left one off the bone, ending his season.
Rather than have the hamstring surgically repaired, Byrnes went through rehab instead. Recently he has been hitting over in Minor League camp games, but had yet to run the bases as making the sharp cuts caused him some discomfort early in camp.
The club wants to make sure the injury is fully healed, because a re-injury that requires surgery could cost him another year.
"I know he's pretty excited," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll see what the trainers have to say and how he feels tomorrow."
On Sunday he stole second, moved up from second to third on a shallow fly ball and said he did not experience any issues with the hamstring while picking up three hits and a walk.
"It was fun," Byrnes said of the experience. "I've missed it. It reminded me of why I love this game. It felt very comfortable, but there were a few things that felt a little foreign out there."
Hitting was not one of them, because Byrnes has been swinging the bat for some time now.
"Hitting-wise it's been going well for a couple of weeks now," he said. "Hopefully that will translate into the other games."
Regardless of what happens with Byrnes, there will be at least one spring debut being made on Tuesday.
Right-hander Max Scherzer, slated to be the team's fifth starter, is scheduled to make his first start against the A's. The right-hander experienced some discomfort in his shoulder when he started throwing in January and received a cortisone shot.
As with Byrnes, the team has been cautious with Scherzer and has brought him along slowly this spring.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.