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Back strain no longer bothering Braves' Laird

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Gerald Laird was in a good mood when he entered the Braves' clubhouse early Saturday morning.

"That's when you know you're a salty veteran," Laird told multiple teammates after he saw he was slated to be used as the designated hitter in the split-squad game against the Marlins a few hours later at Champion Stadium.

While handling the DH duties in Saturday's game, Laird further distanced himself from the discomfort of straining his lower back on Feb. 27 in the first inning of his Grapefruit League season debut.

Having benefited from a week's worth of rest and rehab, Laird returned to the Braves' lineup on Friday and spent five pain-free innings behind the plate during a 4-1 loss to the Red Sox.

"I knew it was going to be a week, and then I'd be ready to go," Laird said. "I feel great right now. There's no problem. It doesn't feel like it's going to happen again. It's one of those things that happens, and then it's over. It released, did its thing and now I'm ready to go."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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