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Laird day to day with lower back strain

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Gerald Laird was in obvious pain as he attempted to pack his bag before leaving Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday afternoon. But he hopes to return to action after resting his back over the next few days.

Laird exited Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Tigers after experiencing back spasms in the first inning. The Braves termed the injury a lower back strain and gave him a day-to-day status.

"It happened before, a couple years ago," Laird said. "Once it releases, you usually don't have any problems with it."

Laird felt a twinge in his back during a swing that produced a groundout to end the top of the first inning. He manned his position behind the plate during the bottom half of the inning and then was replaced by Jose Yepez.

"I felt it on my swing," Laird said. "I should have probably said something, but I didn't want to throw a kid [Yepez] in the game right there. So I tried to get through that first inning of catching. But I told myself, 'It's not worth it.'"

Laird realized it was time to leave the game when he was unable to drop to block a low pitch that went through his legs and led to the only run the Tigers scored against Kris Medlen in his two innings of work.

"Usually I block that ball, because usually I get down," Laird said. "I was just late getting down. That's when I said, 'I shouldn't be back here.' That's an easy ball to block."

With the regular season still a little more than a month away, Laird will be given as much time as he needs to attempt to make sure this minor ailment does not prove to be a lingering problem throughout the regular season.

The Braves are aiming for Evan Gattis to serve as their starting catcher in approximately 105 games this year. This plan sets the stage for Laird to receive more playing time than many other backup catchers.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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