Results tagged ‘ Gerald Laird ’

Monday: Tigers at Twins

The Tigers have just started batting practice here at Target Field, and the reviews so far today have been positive. Compared with the cramped visiting clubhouse and funkiness of the Metrodome, this place feels almost palatial.

As Miguel Cabrera succinctly put it, “This is big league.”

Supposedly the positives hear include heating coils underneath the playing field, so that the field will never get cooler than about 42 degrees. That shouldn’t become an issue tonight, but nonetheless, it’s going to be a chilly evening for baseball.

Much like Alex Avila catching Justin Verlander for the first time Sunday, Gerald Laird is catching Max Scherzer for the first time in a regular-season game. Manager Jim Leyland said this afternoon that Laird will catch the first two games of the series, with Avila catching the getaway afternoon game Wednesday.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Raburn, RF
  8. Laird, C
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Max Scherzer

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  3. Justin Morneau, 1B
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  6. Jason Kubel, LF
  7. J.J. Hardy, SS
  8. Wilson Ramos, C
  9. Nick Punto, 3B

P: Scott Baker

Wednesday: Tigers at Angels

Alex Avila is back in the lineup for the third time in four days against Jered Weaver, who has held Gerald Laird to 1-for-15 in his career. Manager Jim Leyland pointed out the hard line drives Laird hit right at defenders Tuesday, but 1-for-15 is 1-for-15.

Brandon Inge, meanwhile, gets a game off. He’s 2-for-10 against Weaver, though Leyland talked about the cool, rainy conditions among the reasons to give him this night off. Don Kelly is at third.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Kelly, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Santiago, SS
  9. Sizemore, 2B
P: Jeremy Bonderman
ANGELS
  1. Erick Aybar, SS
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF (8-for-14 off Bonderman)
  3. Torii Hunter, CF (14-for-33 off Bonderman)
  4. Hideki Matsui, DH (12-for-24, 3 HRs off Bonderman)
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Juan Rivera, LF
  7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  8. Mike Napoli, C
  9. Brandon Wood, 3B
P: Jered Weaver

Monday: Tigers at Angels

Alex Avila takes a hit and keeps playing. He’s back in the starting lineup for the second straight game. Gerald Laird is just 2-for-13 lifetime off Angels starter Joel Pineiro. 

There’s a story on Avila’s take on the hit coming on the site tonight. He said Sunday he loves being able to take a hit like that. To him, that’s baseball. It sounds a little like his manager, who was describing the worst hit he ever took back in 1969 from former player turned umpire John Shulock, whom Leyland said banged his knee into his face so hard he broke Leyland’s nose.
“I think I caught the next night without a mask,” Leyland joked.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS
P: Dontrelle Willis
ANGELS
  1. Erick Aybar, SS
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF
  3. Torii Hunter, CF
  4. Hideki Matsui, DH
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Juan Rivera, LF
  7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  8. Jeff Mathis, C
  9. Brandon Wood, 3B
P: Joel Pineiro

Saturday: Tigers vs. Mariners

As expected, Ryan Raburn is in right field today, with Magglio Ordonez at DH. Raburn is batting second today in place of Johnny Damon, who gets the night off.

That was expected. What wasn’t expected was that Gerald Laird was iffy for today with back soreness. That was the reason Jim Leyland took him out of last night’s game for the late innings. It wasn’t just a matter of resting some regulars in a game that was out of hand. However, Laird said today he feels good enough to play, so he gets the start behind the plate. Laird and Sizemore flip in the batting order, though. Alex Avila will start Sunday with Max Scherzer on the mound.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Raburn, RF
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Sizemore, 2B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Justin Verlander

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Chone Figgins, 2B
  3. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
  4. Jose Lopez, 3B
  5. Ken Griffey Jr., DH
  6. Milton Bradley, LF
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. Adam Moore, C
  9. Jack Wilson, SS

P: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Why Santiago hit with game on the line

I talked about this in my game story on the Tigers site, but I figured the question’s going to come up: If Johnny Damon was going to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, why not have him hit for Ramon Santiago rather than Gerald Laird?

I asked Jim Leyland about it after the game. If Damon bats in Santiago’s place and draws a walk, it loads the bases for Gerald Laird with Alex Avila and Adam Everett as the remaining two hitters on the bench. And there was a good reason to lean against sending up Avila in that situation.

“I wanted a veteran guy up there,” Leyland said. “That’s why I hit Damon
[for Laird] instead of Avila. I just thought the veteran guy would take
closer pitches for balls. I felt comfortable with Santi. If I hit
Damon [for him], they might walk him, and then I hit Avila for Laird.”

I think it says a lot of what Leyland thinks of Santiago as a hitter, and with good reason. He’s 30 years old now with more than 1,400 Major League plate appearances under his belt.

Tigers set Opening Day lineup

Kauffman Stadium.jpgThe lineup for Monday is now set. Gerald Laird will bat seventh, with rookie Scott Sizemore batting eighth, resolving the one remaining question. So the lineup against Zack Greinke will look like this:

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, LF
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Carlos Guillen, DH
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Gerald Laird, C
  8. Scott Sizemore, 2B
  9. Adam Everett, SS

Jim Leyland also said that he’ll make at least one adjustment for the second game of the season: Ramon Santiago will start at shortstop for that game Wednesday night against Luke Hochevar.

Tuesday notes: Leyland loses his mind on Laird?

Maybe Jim Leyland hadn’t lost his mind after all batting Gerald Laird at DH.

He joked that he had. He wrote it on the lineup card, in fact, beside Laird’s name: “I’ve lost my mind!”

“He gave me a hard time,” Laird said. “It was fun.”

Laird and Leyland laughed together about it. It wasn’t a move meant as a joke so much as it was a way for Leyland to get Laird some at-bats while also getting Alex Avila nine innings behind the plate. As you’ll see in the story on the Tigers site, the Tigers have a big decision looming on Avila and how much he can learn in the big leagues compared with catching every day at Triple-A Toledo.

Laird responded with a home run deep to left and a double to the left-field fence. To him, it was a chance to really focus on his at-bats without having the added duty of handling the pitching staff.

“It was actually kind of exciting being the DH,” Laird said. “When I’m catching, more of my focus on catching behind the plate, and you [otherwise] get those two or three minutes at a time of hitting, but today, it was one of those things I had to go in the cage with [hitting coach Lloyd McClendon] a little bit and kind to focus all my attention [on hitting]. It was nice.”

That’s not something Laird would not want to reflect on days when he’s catching. He doesn’t want to show any emotion about it, good or bad, because he doesn’t want pitchers thinking his loyalties are divided.
 
Other tidbits:

  • Joel Zumaya and the Tigers are in a no-win situation right now. He needs to get in some pitching work, but he’s still ill with the stomach bug he caught a few days ago. He was told to stay home Tuesday. With the Tigers off Wednesday, the hope is to have him pitch Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays. “He’s sick as a dog right now,” Leyland said, “He’s been throwing up for two days. … I’m going to watch him, but we have to get him going. He needs to pitch.”
  • As well as starter Max Scherzer looked Tuesday night, holding the Nationals hitless until the fifth, Leyland said he could’ve gone further. He didn’t because the Tigers were worried about a spot on Scherzer’s right index finger that they thought could develop into a blister. “Looked like just the start of one, so we didn’t want to take any chances,” Leyland said.
  • Non-roster reliever Enrique Gonzalez continues to get his innings around the back end of games, and he continues to throw strikes and make an impression. “It would not surprise me if Gonzalez is in the big leagues at some point,” Leyland said, noting Gonzalez is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. “He’s not afraid. He’s very impressive.”
  • Leyland continues to tout how impressed he has been with shortstop Brent Dlugach, to the point where you have to keep an eye on him this season assuming he opens at Triple-A Toledo as the regular shortstop. “He could be a utility player right now, from what I’ve seen, but he could also end up [someday] being an everyday shortstop,” Leyland said. “He looks like a totally different player.”
  • If you were at the game or following, you might have noticed at Gene Lamont was not at his usual post coaching third base. Leyland said he had Lamont go home instead of sticking around for the game and making a late-night drive back home to Sarasota for the off-day. Leyland gave the same offer to pitching coach Rick Knapp, who instead wanted to stick around to watch Rick Porcello pitch in the camp game Wednesday morning. “Coaches, they don’t get any breaks, really,” Leyland said.

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.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Orioles

Odd seeing the O’s in Lakeland for a game, but a good odd. Never saw them around these parts when they trained all the way down in Fort Lauderdale. In fact, I think the last time we saw O’s third base coach Juan Samuel in Lakeland, he was trying to teach center field to Alex Sanchez. That was his last year as a Tiger in 2005. Now that the O’s have moved their spring base to Sarasota, one would expect this to be a regular matchup.

You’ll notice Austin Jackson isn’t in the starting lineup, but it’s a regular day off. Tigers had him working on his bunting on the practice fields this morning with Adam Everett and Gerald Laird. This session wasn’t about sac bunting so much as bunting for hits.

“You just try to give them another weapon,” manager Jim Leyland said. “And if anything, you try to get the third baseman on top of them [defending the bunt]. It’s an offensive weapon.”

None of those three guys are starting today, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jackson enter later in the game.

TIGERS

  1. Thomas, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Kelly, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Justin Verlander, Brad Thomas, Ryan Perry, Jose Valverde, Daniel Schlereth, Jay Sborz

ORIOLES

  1. Felix Pie, LF
  2. Robert Andino, 2B
  3. Nolan Reimold, DH
  4. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  5. Lou Montanez, RF
  6. Brandon Snyder, 1B
  7. Jeff Salazar, CF
  8. Michel Hernandez, C
  9. Blake Davis, SS

P: Kevin Millwood, Brandon Erbe, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Alberto Castillo, Cla Meredith

Few Tigers delayed to camp (Damon not included)

The good news for the Tigers on reporting day is that they don’t have another Francisco Cruceta situation on their hands. You remember him from 2008, right? He was the reliever who was stuck in the Dominican all spring with visa problems after he was supposed to be a big solution to the Tigers’ bullpen depth. Instead, Denny Bautista opened the season as Detroit’s setup man.

The bad news for the Tigers is that they have a few guys who are going to be a little late to camp:

  • Closer Jose Valverde is expected to get in on Saturday. He’s dealing with a personal situation, according to manager Jim Leyland.
  • Catcher Gerald Laird won’t be around until early next week, probably Tuesday. His sister is getting married this weekend.
  • Catcher Max St. Pierre is also expected to arrive Saturday. He and his wife are expecting their first child, if she hasn’t already given birth.

Other than that, I think all the pitchers and catchers are in. Leyland joked that he might have coach Gene Lamont don catching gear again if they need an extra body to catch bullpen sessions. Brandon Inge definitely won’t, not with his knees.

As for the Damon thing, I can confirm that there’s an open locker in the corner of the Tigers clubhouse, right in front of Leyland’s office. It belonged to Casper Wells last year, but he’s been moved over to the other side. Still, that doesn’t mean Damon’s going to fill it. Considering it sits next to Cabrera, it could also go to Andres Galarraga. Really, if I were going to put Galarraga in the clubhouse somewhere, that’s where I’d put him.

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