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Gerald Laird

Detroit Tigers — No. 8
Catcher
Born: November 13, 1979 (1979-11-13) (age 30)
Westminster, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
April 30, 2003 for the Texas Rangers
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Batting average     .247
Home runs     29
Runs batted in     167
Teams

Gerald Lee Laird III (born November 13, 1979, in Westminster, California) is a Major League Baseball catcher for the Detroit Tigers. He graduated La Quinta High School in 1998,[1] and then went on to play college baseball for Cypress College.

Contents

Career

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Oakland Athletics

Laird was originally a second round draft choice of the Oakland Athletics in 1998, but initially held out for more money. When Oakland declined, Laird attended Cypress College, where he led the school's baseball squad to the finals. In June 1999, Oakland and Laird negotiated a new contract. In his first minor league season, 1999, Laird played 60 games with the Low-A Southern Oregon Timberjacks, where he batted .285. Laird split the 2000 season between the Rookie-level Arizona League Athletics and High-A Visalia Oaks, but a broken wrist limited his playing time. Going in to the 2001 season he was considered a top prospect, but batted .255 with the Modesto A's.[2]

Texas Rangers

Laird with the Texas Rangers.

Prior to the 2002 season Oakland traded Laird to the Texas Rangers along with Ryan Ludwick, Jason Hart, and Mario Ramos, for first baseman Carlos Pena and pitcher Mike Venafro.[3] Texas assigned Laird to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, where his strong defensive play and improved batting average (.276) drew plaudits.[4]

Laird joined Texas for 2003 Spring Training, but after a brief appearance was sent to the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks. Texas recalled Laird on April 30 when catcher Todd Greene went on the disabled list. Laird made his major league debut the same day. Greene returned from the disabled list after 15 days and Texas optioned Laird back to Oklahoma. Texas recalled Laird a second time in September when the rosters expanded, and he remained with the big league club the rest of the season. In his two stints with Texas Laird played in 19 games and hit .273. At the end of the year he was named to the USA Baseball squad.[5]

Laird won the Rangers starting catching job in Spring Training in 2004 following the Einar Diaz trade, but after dislocating his thumb in a home plate collision in May 2004, ended up on the disabled list and lost his starting job to Rod Barajas.[6] After spending most of the 2005 season in Triple-A, Laird took over as the backup catcher for the Rangers in 2006. Laird went into the season well-regarded around the majors for his defensive skills, despite a career batting average of .234.. Commented San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers: "The Rangers knew they had a commodity. The only way they were going to part with him was if some team grossly overpaid."[7] In 78 games Laird hit an improved .296 with seven home runs. In 2007, Laird was again given the opportunity to be the starting catcher. The Rangers new manager, Ron Washington, took a special interest in Laird during spring training, and said "I just want him to concentrate on making this pitching staff better and helping them to believe in him."[8]

In 2007 Laird had the lowest fielding percentage of all major league catchers, .984, and the lowest range factor among full-time AL catchers, 6.83 Compensating for the low fielding percentage, Laird possesses a strong arm, throwing out 40% of attempted base stealers, ranking him second behind the Seattle Mariners Kenji Johjima in 2007. Additionally, Laird participated in the second most number of double plays among all MLB catchers despite having among the least number of fielding chances.[9][10][11]

Detroit Tigers

On December 8, 2008, Laird was traded to the Detroit Tigers for two minor league pitchers, Carlos Melo and Guillermo Moscoso.[12] Laird became the starting catcher for the Detroit Tigers, ahead of Dane Sardinha and Matt Treanor. While with Detroit, Laird had the highest average of throwing out runners trying to steal a base in the American League.

Personal

Laird's younger brother, Brandon Laird, was drafted by the New York Yankees and is currently in their farm system.

Arrest

On December 30, 2009, Gerald and Brandon were reportedly arrested following an incident during a basketball game between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns. The Lairds allegedly assaulted two security guards. Further information and/or facts disclosing about the incident are not known.[13]

References

  1. ^ http://www.lqaa.org/images/Yearbooks/1998/LQ98P05.JPG
  2. ^ Dybal, Chuck (May 1, 2001). "Catcher has shot with A's lacking depth at position; Modesto's Laird could climb the ladder quickly after Hinch and Olivo were traded in the winter". Contra Costa Times. p. C03.  
  3. ^ Saxon, Mark (January 15, 2002). "A's acquire first base prospect; Oakland gets Pena in six-player deal with the Rangers". Oakland Tribune.  
  4. ^ "Drillers Update". Tulsa World. June 11, 2002. p. B3.  
  5. ^ "USA Baseball Roster". Associated Press. October 28, 2003.  
  6. ^ Sullivan, T.R. (May 23, 2004). "Injuries piling up around the majors". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  
  7. ^ Antonen, Mel (March 13, 2006). "Teams place help wanted ads in search of catchers; Finding right balance on offense, defense proves elusive". USA Today. p. 1C.  
  8. ^ Hawkins, Stephen (February 26, 2007). "Laird finally has the starting job and a clear direction with Rangers". Associated Press.  
  9. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/stats?playerId=5465&context=fielding
  10. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/stats?playerId=28663&context=fielding
  11. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/fielding?groupId=9&season=2007&seasonType=2&split=78&sortOrder=true&sortColumn=totalChances&qualified=1
  12. ^ "Tigers acquire Gerald Laird from Texas Rangers". MLB.com. December 8, 2008. http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081208&content_id=3706106&vkey=pr_det&fext=.jsp&c_id=det. Retrieved 2008-12-12.  
  13. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/12/31/20091231sunsbrawl1231-ON.html

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Reed Johnson
AL Rookie of the Month
April 2004
Succeeded by
Kevin Youkilis

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