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Byrd hasn't given up on Cubs' chances

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With a record of 39-50 at the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs will need something just short of a White Sox-like comeback in order to be playing meaningful baseball in September.

The team’s only All-Star representative, Marlon Byrd, was trying to remain positive about the Cubs’ second-half chances.

“We’ve done a good job all year long of staying positive and being optimistic,” Byrd said. “We’ve waited for that streak to happen and tried not to put pressure on ourselves, although pressure is always going to be there.

“We haven’t had any negativity. Guys still want to come to the field early and work hard. We need to come back in the second half with the same attitude. If we do, we’ll be fine.”

Coming out of spring training, the Cubs expected the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers to be their main rivals for a division title, however nobody really saw the Cincinnati Reds coming on strong to be the division leaders.

Cardinals All-Star pitcher Chris Carpenter had this viewpoint of preseason predictions.

“That’s why you play the games,” Carpenter said. “Last year it was supposed to be the Cubs and Brewers battling it out. We weren’t supposed to be in the running. That’s why you play 162 games. The Reds are playing good baseball. They have some great veteran leadership over there with Scott [Rolen] that they brought in. And they have a lot of young quality players. We’ll be battling them all the rest of the way.”

Carpenter, like most baseball people, is looking past the fading Cubs right now. However, another All-Star from the Central division isn’t so sure the Cubs are finished.

“Yeah, you know, they’ve dealt with some injuries,” Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun said. “Aramis has always been one of their best players, and he spent some time on the [disabled list]. So when they get Aramis back right and get D-Lee going right, they should be all right. They’re not done yet. They’ll still be heard from, I believe.”

The Cubs will have to put a rush on in the second half that’s more significant than their 4-3 record just before the All-Star break.

“We have the ability to do it,” Byrd said. “We’re 9.5 games back. That’s not too big of a gap. OK, it is a huge gap, considering the teams we’re chasing, but we have the ability to catch them. All we have to do is catch fire. At the same time, we have to play well to do that.”