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Laird returns after painful couple of weeks

ATLANTA -- Back from a procedure to remove an extremely painful kidney stone, Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird was activated from the 15-day disabled list before Sunday's game. With Brian McCann getting a second day off to rest his sore knee, Laird would be ready if called upon to replace Evan Gattis behind the plate during the team's series finale against the Marlins.

Laird had attempted to pass the stone for three or four days before having it removed with a surgical procedure that landed him on the DL, retroactive to July 26.

"It was big, and it lasted for a while," Laird said. "They said it could've been a while until I passed it through -- if I passed it through. So I was like, 'I might as well get the procedure done and knock it out in like seven, eight days,' instead of waiting two or three weeks and then maybe having to go through that procedure. ... I would've been out three or four weeks."

In two rehab starts with Triple-A Gwinnett this weekend, Laird caught a total of 11 innings without any discomfort. He went 0-for-6 at the plate while hitting second in the order to get as many plate appearances as possible in limited action.

"I went back to basics to see some pitches, I didn't want to go out there and swing at the first pitch every at-bat," said Laird. "I wanted to work the count and kind of see some offspeed pitches, and I was able to do that. I feel like when my time comes, I'll be ready to go."

While manager Fredi Gonzalez has mentioned the danger of having catchers make more rehab starts than necessary because of the risk of an errant foul ball or freak injury, Laird's extra day served a dual purpose. It gave the 11-year veteran extra swings and didn't disrupt the Braves' mojo amid their 14-game winning streak, which began the day after the last game Laird caught -- a 7-4 loss to the Mets on July 25.

"It's one of those things where baseball players are superstitious, and I was like, 'Dude, I don't even know if I want to come back until we lose,'" Laird said. "I told [outfielder Jordan] Schafer that he came back and ruined the streak, so I'm a good teammate and took an extra day."

Finally relieved of what he described as the worst pain he's ever experienced, Laird planned to do everything he could to ensure a similar ailment never keeps him out of the lineup again.

"Stay hydrated, and I'm getting it analyzed to see what caused it, so hopefully I can prevent [getting kidney stones] again," Laird said. "Whatever they say it is, I'm willing to give that up to never get one of those again."

Eric Single is an associate reporter for
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