Byrd is expected to bat leadoff for the second straight game as the Nationals open a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
Washington acquired the 27-year-old Byrd on May 14 from Philadelphia in exchange for disappointing Endy Chavez. Byrd floundered with the Phillies after a solid 2003 campaign in which he batted .303 and finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Byrd is set to take over the leadoff spot because of Brad Wilkerson’s right forearm injury. Wilkerson missed Washington’s 9-2 win at Toronto on Sunday and is set to have X-rays on Monday for the painful injury.
“If I keep going now it might do some damage and maybe cost me the rest of the season,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson is batting .281 with three home runs and 17 RBI, but is just 2-for-16 in his last five games.
“We’re going to give him a few days and see if it gets better,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “Right now it’s not doing much. Matter of fact, it’s probably gotten worse.”
That means Byrd will get a chance to produce at the top of the order. Byrd went 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly on Sunday and is hitting .389 (7-for-18) in six games with Washington.
The Nationals broke out of a hitting slump with 13 hits on Sunday after batting just .173 over the previous five games. Washington’s Tony Blanco belted a three-run homer—the team’s first with more than one man on base this season.
Cincinnati starter Eric Milton is winless since April 16. Milton is 0-4 with an 8.35 ERA over his last six outings.
The 29-year-old left-hander allowed six runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 10-6 loss at the New York Mets last Wednesday. Milton has surrendered a major league-leading 15 homers.
Milton is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA in four career starts—all from last season— against the Nationals’ franchise.
The Reds are coming off a 9-2 win in their series finale with Cleveland on Sunday. Cincinnati has lost 18 of its last 23, falling a season-high 13 games under .500.
The Reds haven’t won any of their last 11 series—their longest such slump since Pete Rose’s gambling scandal in 1989—and haven’t even won back-to-back games in more than a month.