Brandon Laird was sleeping when he got the call.
Tony DeFrancesco, the manager of the Astros’ Class AAA team in Oklahoma City, called Laird and said, “Get up and pack, you’re going to Houston.”
On Thursday, the Astros optioned first baseman Brett Wallace, who was hitting .042 in 24 at bats and struck out 17 times already this year, to Oklahoma City. Laird, 25, was called up to replace Wallace. Laird hit .353 (18x51) in 12 games for the RedHawks with two home runs and 14 RBI with a .569 slugging pct. His 14 RBI lead the RedHawks and rank seventh in the Pacific Coast League. In 29 Spring Training games, Laird hit .328 (21x64) with five home runs and 12 RBI with a .609 slugging pct.
“I went down there and did what I needed to do,” Laird said. “I got some good at-bats and worked hard and got back here. By the spring I had it was kind of tough, but I didn’t want to go down there and mope and not work hard. So, I just wanted to go down there and continue what I did in spring and fortunately I did, and I’m excited to be here now.”
“Brandon deserved to make the team out of spring training based on performance, but you can only take 25 guys,” manager Bo Porter said. “He was a victim of numbers and roster space. He’s been around the game with different organizations, so he understood exactly what happened. To his credit, he went to Triple A, did not hold his head and performed down there and that warranted him being called up. He’s earned it.”
Porter told Laird he was going to be a more versatile player, getting time at first base, third base and even the outfield.
“Anywhere I can get my bat in the lineup and be on the field,” Laird said.
Regarding Wallace, Porter feels Triple A is a better place for him to try to regain his confidence.
“Brett Wallace as still a part of our future, but the things he needed to get worked out we just didn’t see it being able to get worked out here, and it’s best for him to get those things worked out in Oklahoma City,” Porter said.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Laird, the Astros also designated left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno for assignment, leaving the team short on pitchers. Porter said they will decide after Friday night’s game who they will add as an extra pitcher for Saturday.
On outfielder Fernando Martinez who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle: “He’s continuing his rehab,” Porter said. “We’ll continue to monitor that closely and make sure there’s not setbacks, and when we feel like he’s had enough live game action and he’s ready to come here, we’ll bring him at that time.”
Porter said left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list one day after being acquired from the Oakland A’s with a left shoulder strain, threw yesterday.
"We want to get him built up,” Porter said.
Porter gives “42” six stars out of five
On his day off on Thursday, Porter and his wife, Stacey, saw “42” on their date-night. The movie is about the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in American Major League Baseball, focusing on the two years of his life after he entered the game in 1947.
“It’s a must-see for everyone,” Porter said. “They did a great job of presenting the information and really letting the country see all of the struggles of which Jackie Robinson had to deal with, not just from a baseball standpoint but just from the media standpoint, his teammates, all the different parameters that came with him being the first African American in major league baseball.
“It was well written. The actors did a great job and it really displayed the reality of everything that took place during that time. I’ve read books about it, and I was fortunate in 2001 when I was with the Texas Rangers, I was the Jackie Robinson recipient of the team, so I supported the foundation. I’ve had conversations with Sharon, and to be able to see it played out on the big screen and have background with it, it was emotional. It brought tears to my eyes at the end – more tears of joy than anything.”