Laird putting in extra work to solve slump

Laird putting in extra work to solve slump

LOS ANGELES -- Gerald Laird remembers homering into the left-field seats at Dodger Stadium. It was in a high-school championship game 12 years ago, and it's a moment he'll never forget.

By contrast, it was a quiet afternoon session of extra batting practice here Friday afternoon when Laird got to clear the fence again. The only cheers in the empty ballpark came from manager Jim Leyland, who was watching intently from the Tigers dugout. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was rather quiet behind the batting cage.

It doesn't even count for a hit, let alone a championship. But if the extra BP leads to some better hitting once the games start, it'll be worth it.

"Just trying to get in some extra work," Laird said. I'm working on a few things, me and Mac. We're trying to get things going, trying to get one of us [catchers] going."

Laird was out of the Tigers' lineup for Friday's series opener against the Dodgers, his second straight game sitting, but the way Leyland has mixed and matched his catchers trying to find offense, he'll be back in soon enough. While Laird entered Friday batting .157, Alex Avila started Friday with a .164 clip.

Laird ended an 0-for-11 slump with a bunt single Wednesday at Oakland, his first hit in six days. He did what he had to do to get on base. He has five hits in May, and two of them are infield singles. By contrast, he has had several well-struck line drives go for outs, including a diving catch by White Sox left fielder Juan Pierre on Tuesday.

"It's just been tough," Laird said, "but I'm just going to keep working. I know things are going to turn around. I know they are. But my main concern is to catch and keep doing what I'm doing behind the plate with the [pitching] staff and try to help us win baseball games."