SEATTLE -- Tigers catcher Gerald Laird shares his manager's frustration at opponents' stolen bases this year. After all, much of that success is going on Laird's record. A year ago, Laird led all American League catchers by throwing out 40.4 percent of would-be basestealers. His 37.6 percent out rate since 2006 leads all AL catchers, too. But two weeks into the season, opponents have stolen 12 bases on him in 15 tries, including three in four attempts on Saturday night. Essentially, though, they've stolen those bases on Tigers pitchers, who have struggled at times to hold runners and allowed speedsters such as Chone Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki to gain huge jumps.
"Oh, it's frustrating," Laird said. "I thought I made at least three pretty good throws [Saturday] and I only got one guy." Manager Jim Leyland said Sunday morning that he could end up calling pitchouts a little more often. That isn't really an option, however, when pitchers fall behind in counts. When Joel Zumaya fell behind on a 2-0 count to Franklin Gutierrez in the eighth inning on Saturday, for instance, he not only couldn't pitch out, he couldn't risk doing a slide step. Chone Figgins took off and stole second base without a throw on a 102-mph Zumaya fastball. "I've had success against them in the past," Laird said. "It's one of those things where we have to know when they're on base, they're going to take a chance to run. If they give the catchers a chance, we have two pretty good guys who can throw the ball here, and I think we're going to get a lot of them. The key for this team is getting those guys on base. You have to throw strikes. You have to make Figgins and Ichiro earn their way on. You can't walk them, because that's when things kind of get out of whack. You've got all these guys in motion."