8/11/2013 2:30 P.M. ET
Laird returns after painful couple of weeks
By Eric Single / MLB.com
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."
Walden nursing hand injured in Saturday's loss
ATLANTA -- Braves reliever Jordan Walden was still unsure of how much time he would need to return to 100 percent, after taking a line drive off his right hand in Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Marlins. X-rays were negative on the hand, but Walden had wrapped it in a bandage as he prepared to meet with team doctors on Sunday.
"I haven't looked at it yet," Walden said. "It's a little stiff."
The 25-year-old right-hander sustained the injury when Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison hit a line drive back to the mound in the ninth inning. Although he was able to recover and get the ball to first for the second out, Walden said the throw was a light two-fingered toss to help lessen the pain in his throwing hand. He was replaced by Anthony Varvaro before the next batter, but was saddled with his second loss of the season.
While Walden has excelled in eighth-inning relief appearances, compiling a 2.31 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings of work this season, his ERA is a more pedestrian 4.50 in 10 appearances from the ninth inning onward. He endured an up-and-down pair of ninth-inning outings during the team's 14-game winning streak -- allowing the game-tying run on July 29 against the Rockies for his first blown save of the year before shutting down the Nationals in the ninth on Aug. 5 for his first save this season.
McCann gets another day off to rest sore knee
ATLANTA -- Catcher Brian McCann received a second straight day off on Sunday afternoon to rest his sore right knee, which flared up just before Friday night's series opener against the Marlins. McCann made a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning on Saturday, after manager Fredi Gonzalez left him out of the starting lineup as a precaution.
"Mac came in [on Friday] after the game, he came in and his knee was a little sore, and I didn't want to mess with it, to make something small bigger. ... So we gave him a day today," Gonzalez said before Saturday's game. "When he came out of the bullpen [after] warming up [Brandon] Beachy, he kind of felt it, and so we didn't want to mess with it."
McCann's solo home run on Friday gave the catcher 17 home runs in just 71 games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery. He struck out on three pitches on Saturday, after swinging at a pair of 94-mph fastballs from Miami reliever Mike Dunn.
Because McCann still did not feel comfortable pushing his knee over a full game behind the plate on Sunday, Evan Gattis started a second consecutive game at catcher for the first time since McCann's return in early May.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.