Laird back in lineup after being hit by bat

Laird back in lineup after being hit by bat

CLEVELAND -- It wasn't long after Tigers catcher Gerald Laird strolled into the visitors' clubhouse Sunday morning that he received a visit from manager Jim Leyland.

"You OK?" Leyland asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Laird replied.

"Good," Leyland said. "Because you're playing today."

Such a scenario seemed rather unlikely following a grim scene in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the Indians, when the barrel of Tribe catcher Chris Gimenez's shattered bat on a third-inning groundout hit Laird in the left side of the head.

"It's one of those things that happen," said Laird, who batted eighth in Leyland's lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Indians. "[Gimenez] finished his swing and it kind of clipped me. I'm just glad it wasn't the other end of the bat sticking in me. That's the scary part about being back there."

Tigers trainers evaluated the dazed backstop, who writhed in pain on the ground after absorbing the blow. Laird collected himself and remained in the game before being lifted for pinch-hitter Johnny Damon in the ninth following a one-hour, 53-minute rain delay.

"I was seeing some stars for a little bit because I got the barrel pretty good," Laird said. "Sometimes, they just glance off you, but that one got me pretty solid. It feels a little stiff and sore, but it's better today than it was yesterday."