Laird exits from opener with tight hamstring

Laird exits from opener with tight hamstring

Laird exits from opener with tight hamstring
DETROIT -- An hour away from Comerica Park, Triple-A Toledo outfielder Matt Young was shaking hands with teammates after leaving the Mud Hens' game early. According to the Toledo Blade, he was on his way to the Tigers, though the back half of the roster move wasn't known.

Something seemingly happened along the way. It might well have been backup catcher Gerald Laird's tweaked hamstring Friday night, the latest addition to the Tigers' lengthy injury list.

The Tigers expect Laird to be out until Tuesday. As for the expected roster move, it didn't happen. All manager Jim Leyland could say about it was that plans change, which seemingly said a lot.

"Sometimes you just have to put things on hold," Leyland said. "Your plans get derailed once in a while, when certain things happen during the course of a game."

Laird started at designated hitter for the second time in three days to put a right-handed bat in the injury-depleted Tigers lineup against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia. He was trying to leg out an infield single in the sixth inning and spark a Tigers rally when he felt his right hamstring, the same hammy he tweaked just before Opening Day.

"I just felt a tweak," he said.

It was the tweak, he said, that led him to slide headfirst into first base, usually a no-no for a baserunner. First-base umpire Bob Davidson called him safe, but Laird immediately came up limping.

Don Kelly pinch-ran for Laird at first base. Jhonny Peralta pinch-hit for Kelly next time up in the eighth.

Laird was the second Tigers catcher to leave a game with injury in as many days. All-Star catcher Alex Avila left Thursday's game at Boston after a foul tip from Ryan Sweeney hit him in his mask and knocked his helmet down onto his nose, causing a gash and raising fears of a possible concussion.

Avila, who left Thursday's game as a precaution, showed no symptoms of a concussion and pinch-hit Friday.

Coincidentally, the Tigers called up a third catcher, Omir Santos, on Wednesday. He was brought up to allow Leyland to use one of his other backstops at designated hitter without worrying about what to do if his other catcher was injured. Santos started behind the plate Friday for starting pitcher Casey Crosby in his Major League debut.

It's a rare situation for the Tigers to have three catchers. With the Tigers set to face right-handed starters for at least the next five days, they might not need that right-handed hitter much longer, especially while Andy Dirks remains out. But with Laird out, they need the third catcher.

"We're fighting through a lot of things right now," Leyland said, "but that's exactly what you have to do. You have to fight through them. We're just getting injury after injury, day after day. We're trying to improvise on a daily basis."