Gene Monahan came over to Brandon Laird this morning and handed him a ball encased in a clear display box — his first big-league hit from last night’s game, an RBI single in his second plate appearance and first official big-league at-bat in his first big-league game.
He said it’s headed for his parents’ place where it will rest next to the ball that represents his brother’s first big-league hit. Gerald Laird is now the backup catcher for the Cardinals.
The thrills continue today for Brandon. He will make his first big-league start, at third base.
“I’m still excited and just happy to be here,” he said. “Going into the game yesterday, everything seemed to happen so fast, I didn’t get a chance to be nervous.”
Laird says he brought two gloves for each position he plays. He can play third, first and the outfield — left and right. He was originally a 27th-round pick in 2007. Last year, he batted .281 with 25 homers and 102 RBI combined between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The homers and RBI topped all Yankees minor-leaguers. He was also named the Eastern League MVP and rookie of the year.
This year, he was batting .266 with 10 homers and 49 RBI in 90 games at Triple-A where he was primarily playing third.
“He had kind of a tough spring this spring, swinging the bat,” Joe Girardi said. “We knew he was a much better player than that. We kept him around. We kept him playing. We sent him down sometimes when he wasn’t getting at-bats with us. He was a guy who was aggressive. You didn’t see him through his struggles ever be tentative. He seemed to fight through everything. I thought that was a good sign.
“I think it’s sometimes good to struggle because I think it brings out the toughness in you. Because the game’s not ever going to be easy. He got off to a slow start in Triple-A this year. But you look at his last three months and they’ve been very good. That’s a good sign as well. It shows me he knows how to make adjustments.”
Gerald Laird viewed the first hit with his Cardinals teammates in Pittsburgh.
“He said he just got in after the game,” Brandon said. “He said he kept everybody in the clubhouse to watch. He said they all went crazy. He gave me a call. He’s proud of me.”
Mark Teixeira played with Gerald Laird in Texas.
“I saw him get a hit in his first major-league at-bat,” Teixeira said. “I guess I bring good luck to the Laird family.”
*Maybe Joe Girardi is settling on a top six vs. righties in Alex Rodriguez’s absence. For the second straight game, it’s Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.
*Girardi again didn’t seem particularly concerned over Phil Hughes’ bad start Friday night.
“We know what he can do,” Girardi said. “It’s just Phil has to go out and do it.”