Detroit Tigers Name Gerald Laird as Single-A Connecticut Manager
Detroit Tigers fans will see a new manager at Single-A Connecticut next season. The Tigers minor league affiliate will be managed by former Detroit catcher Gerald Laird in 2017.
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus won’t be the only former Tigers catcher managing in Detroit’s organization next season.
In a press release, the Tigers announced the team’s minor league coaches and managers for next season.
Those coaches and managers include former Detroit backstop Gerald Laird, who will manage the Connecticut Tigers. Connecticut plays in the New York-Penn League and begins the team’s season in July.
A number of players on the roster are from the most recent draft. Just last season, Detroit draft picks Kyle Funkhouser, Mark Ecker, Bryan Garcia, Zac Houston and Joe Navilhon all pitched for the club.
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They were joined by position players like Sam Machonis, Daniel Pinero and Jacob Robson.
Laird now takes the reigns for the club following a Major League career that saw him spend parts of 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.
Those years included three with the Tigers from 2009 to 2010 and again in 2012.
The veteran served as the team’s primary catcher in 2009, logging a 1.6 WAR while hitting .225 with a .636 OPS.
In 135 games that season, the 37-year-old also collected 49 runs scored, 40 walks, 33 RBI, 23 doubles, five stolen bases, four home runs and two triples.
Laird then split time with the then-23-year-old Alex Avila in 2010 before leaving to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Following a year in the American League Central, the former Ranger returned and posted one of his better offensive seasons.
This time serving as Avila’s primary backup, Laird hit .282 with a .710 OPS to help the Tigers reach the World Series in 2012.
Over the course of 63 games, the catcher added 24 runs scored, 11 RBI, eight doubles, two home runs and a triple.
As it happens, Laird isn’t the only former Detroit Tigers catcher managing in the team’s minor league system.
Mike Rabelo, who was Ivan Rodriguez’ backup in 2007 before being shipped to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera trade, is also a manager in the minors.
Rabelo began as a hitting coach in the Gulf Coast League before becoming manager at Connecticut. Per the same press release, he will take over as Single-A West Michigan’s manager next season.
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One notable name on Rabelo’s coaching staff at West Michigan is another former Tiger and minor league home run king Mike Hessman.