Monday notes: Hit or out, Laird making solid contact
Gerald Laird isn’t going to be a stellar hitter, or even necessarily a really good one statistically. I think we can agree on that one. What most people would settle for is for him not be overmatched nearly as often and for the ability to hit the ball hard when he makes contact.
Monday was that kind of day. Laird went 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI, but he also had a deep fly ball to the warning track in right-center field. It was the wrong place for him to hit the ball; he’ll readily admit he’s better off as a pull hitter. But it also shows the ability to make hard contact.
“I’m just excited that it’s coming,” Laird said. “I know I’m barreling the ball again. I’m getting back to where I felt comfortable when I had some good years in Texas. It’s exciting. I may not be getting the hits every time, but as long as I’m putting the barrel on the ball and hitting the ball hard, I’m excited. Save some of it for the season.”
Jim Leyland gave Laird some advice this spring: Hit a bunch of balls off a batting tee every morning, so that he has the same swing path every time.
Other notes …
- Leyland wants to see his team bunting more. He counted opportunities that Ramon Santiago and Clete Thomas to lay down drag bunts with runners on base in recent days. He also said the bunt could be a weapon for Austin Jackson.
- It got overlooked today, but Carlos Guillen had a smart piece of baserunning going first to third on an RBI single while nobody was paying attention to cover third. The throw home was cut off in plenty of time to nab Guillen, but nobody was covering the base. Not a fast baserunner anymore, but a smart one.
- Leyland called the new deal between Joe Mauer and the Twins a no-brainer. “There’s certain guys you almost can’t let get away.” Leyland didn’t relate it to anything in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates had a guy or two that they arguably shouldn’t have let get away, either.
- If you’re hanging around Lakeland and wondering what to do on the Tigers’ off-day Wednesday, Rick Porcello is throwing in a simulated game.
- Joel Zumaya was on the pitching list for Monday’s game, but he didn’t make the trip because of flu-like symptoms. Apparently there’s a stomach virus that has been going around some of the Tigers, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.