DETROIT -- According to Gerald Laird, there's a pretty obvious reason he's been called upon to pinch-run for Alex Avila in the ninth inning of the Tigers' past two games.
"In a 100-yard dash, I can look backwards and run and beat him," said Laird, sparking some trash talk in the clubhouse.
It's not something the 32-year-old catcher frequently does, but it's not unheard of. Laird said he often served as pinch-runner for catchers in the early stages of his career, and did so for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina occasionally last season.
Manager Jim Leyland couldn't measure how much quicker Laird was, but said there's a considerable difference, and he plans to utilize that late in games.
"If it's the ninth inning, probably if we're behind," said Leyland about calling on Laird to run. "But not in the seventh inning or something. In last night's case, you're shooting the works because it's the ninth inning and there is no 10th inning unless you tie it. You're not really worried about catching innings too much. But if you do it in the seventh inning, you've got to be a little more careful."
Avila wasn't conceding without a fight, however. When asked how much of an advantage Laird holds in speed, he quickly referred to the stats and called for a race.
"We're going to have to race to see how fast he is," Avila said. "He can run, but I still have more stolen bases, more triples. I had seven triples last year."