Laird to the rescue, Kasten shows off ring
The Atlanta Braves are going into the playoffs carrying only one backup infielder, Paul Janish. They have seven outfielders, including Evan Gattis, who is listed as a catcher but is starting in left field.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Thursday the only potential problem he envisions in the NL division series against the Dodgers would come if Janish enters the game as a defensive replacement for Chris Johnson "and something happens, somebody rolls an ankle. Then you have to scramble a little bit."
Added Gonzalez: "And we've made some plans for that, also."
The surprise emergency plan is catcher Gerald Laird, who Gonzalez said could play third base.
Laird played only at catcher this season and has appeared in only two games in his career at third base -- both with Texas in 2008. He started one of those games.
When told of the emergency plan during batting practice before Game 1 on Thursday night, Laird laughed.
"If I'm playing third base, we're in trouble," he said.
RICH RESUME: Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes is with his fifth team in six years.
He started with Tampa Bay in 2003, went to Cincinnati in 2009, Washington in 2011, Oakland in 2012 and Boston this year.
There was something special about nearly all of them.
"I played for the youngest organization in baseball in Tampa," Gomes said Thursday. "I played for the oldest organization in baseball in the Cincinnati Reds. I played for the team I grew up cheering for in the Oakland A's."
And with the Red Sox, he's played before "probably the most educated fan base in baseball," he said.
On Friday, he's set to start in left field in the opener of the best-of-five AL division series against Tampa Bay, which began playing in 1998 and gave Gomes his start five years later.
That, he said, was "the organization that had faith in me in the beginning."
KEEP IT GOING: Matt Moore is hoping to keep the Rays' rotation rolling.
The left-hander starts Friday in the opener of the best-of-five AL division series between Tampa Bay and the Boston Red Sox. He'll follow two outstanding pitching performances that helped prolong the Rays' season. And after going 9-1 in his last 13 starts, he could provide another one.
On Monday night, David Price pitched a complete game in a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers in a tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot. Then on Wednesday night, Alex Cobb pitched 6 2-3 innings in a 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians in the wild-card game.
Moore thinks those outings will give him confidence when he pitches.
"Absolutely," he said. "In these moments when these guys are dominating games and taking over, that's where you want to have your eyes most open. So to be able to see that, that's a great visual for a mentality, for sure."
CESPEDES' THROWS: Yoenis Cespedes joked this week he would play left field for the Athletics in the playoffs if it meant he had to throw left handed.
Looks like he won't have to -- and Oakland manager Bob Melvin made it clear he was not agreeing to such a plan, anyway.
Cespedes did some throwing Thursday to test his troublesome right shoulder ahead of Friday's Game 1 against the Detroit Tigers in the AL division series.
So far, so good. Cespedes, the second-year Cuban star who won this summer's Home Run Derby at the All-Star game, will be re-evaluated when he arrives at the ballpark Friday, but Melvin is optimistic.
"There's a good chance you'll see him in left field tomorrow," Melvin said.
KASTEN'S RING OF HONOR: Stan Kasten, one of the Dodgers' owners and a former Atlanta team president, still proudly wears his 1995 Braves World Series ring.
Asked if wearing the ring during the division series is a conflict of interest, Kasten emphatically replied no.
Kasten said he regularly uses the ring as a motivational tool.
"There's almost not a day when I don't have to take this off to show a fan, a staffer or a player," Kasten said. "Show them this is what we play for."
BRING ON THE ROWDINESS: Sure, the Athletics struggled to draw respectable crowds during the regular season in the run-down Oakland Coliseum.
The Detroit Tigers don't need to be told how folks in the East Bay bring it come October for playoff time, ballpark sewage problems and all.
The A's have removed the tarps from the third deck to add some 12,000 seats and increase capacity from 35,067 to 48,146 for the AL division series.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland got a thrill out of the animated A's fans when the clubs met in the first round last fall, and he's eager to be part of it again.
"I like bars with music but this is a little bit loud," Leyland said. "It does get in your eardrums, thank God I don't hear that well. I enjoy this experience, and I think that's what you ask your players to do, thrive on it."
Max Scherzer knows what he is in for when he takes the mound as Detroit's Game 1 starter Friday night.
"This is one of the rowdiest baseball experiences I've ever been a part of," he said. "The fans here go absolutely nuts from the first pitch to the last, and that's just something you've got to deal with. The crowd noise is going to be loud."
"If I'm not mistaken, they're adding more people in this year, so it's just going to be an unbelievable baseball experience, something I'll never forget," he said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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