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Braves act quickly, sign backup catcher Laird

ATLANTA -- Less than a week after losing David Ross, the Braves have filled their need for a backup catcher by reaching an agreement on a two-year deal with Gerald Laird. Two Major League sources confirmed the agreement, but the team has not made an official announcement. Financial details were not immediately revealed, and the deal is pending a physical.

With Laird, the Braves have landed one of the best available backup catchers on the free-agent market.

The 32-year-old veteran will serve as Atlanta's starting catcher until Brian McCann recovers from shoulder surgery. McCann will miss the first couple of weeks of the 2013 regular season, and quite possibly all of April.

Laird has developed a reputation of being a clubhouse leader who is skilled in the art of handling a pitching staff. In other words, he possesses many of the same attributes that Ross displayed over the past four years in Atlanta. Ross signed a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Red Sox earlier this week.

Laird batted .282 with two home runs and a .710 OPS in 63 games for the Tigers this past season. He proved to be a valuable asset, as Detroit's starting catcher Alex Avila battled a number of different injuries in 2012.

In fact, Laird started eight of the final 17 regular-season games for the Tigers, who had to finish strong to overtake the White Sox for the American League Central title.

Laird also started six of Detroit's 13 postseason games, and he competed in the World Series for the second straight year.

Laird made his Major League debut in 2003, and played each of his first six seasons with the Rangers. He has played three of the past four seasons with the Tigers. Laird's only previous experience in the National League came in 2011, when he helped the Cardinals win the World Series.

Atlanta Braves, Gerald Laird