He's a 10-year veteran catcher who played in the past two World Series, hit .282 last season with Detroit, and threw out 42 percent of would-be base stealers three years ago to lead the American League. So we know Gerald Laird can still play. But he hit .232 or lower with an on-base percentage of .306 or lower for three consecutive seasons through 2011. So we know why he's a backup. And when Detroit catcher Alex Avila was hurt in June, Laird filled in ably, starting 10 of 11 games and hitting .306 with a .375 OBP. So we know the 33-year-old was particularly well-suited for the Braves, who could be without starting catcher Brian McCann for at least the first couple of weeks of the 2013 season. McCann is in the middle of an estimated six-month rehab from October shoulder surgery. "That's why teams looked to sign me early, because I feel like I can bring a lot when their starter goes down," said Laird, who signed a two-year, $3 million free-agent contract Nov. 15, just five days after the Braves lost free agent David Ross to Boston. "I feel like I can fill in for a couple of weeks, a month, whatever it takes. I knew the situation," said Laird, 33. "Like I told [Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez], whatever you want me to do – I can play every day, I can play once a week, twice a week, whatever you want me to do. Obviously when [McCann] comes back, we're going to be even stronger." Last year the right-handed-hitter had his best offensive season in four years, hitting two home runs and posting a .337 OBP and .710 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 191 plate appearances. The Tigers won seven of the 10 games Laird started in the June period when he filled in for Avila, and Laird hit .364 while starting six out of 12 games in a September stretch of the pennant race.
Braves catcher Laird ready for whatever role required
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Feb 1