04/10/2008 1:19 PM ET
Laird: Something to prove
Catcher has earned every bit of playing time
I feel like this is my time to have a big year and show everyone what I can do, including helping to lead this pitching staff.
I've been with the Rangers my whole career, and the club has given me my opportunity to play at this level. It's a big goal of my mine to help this club turn its fortunes around. I want to be behind the plate when we finish first in our division. I'm tired of finishing in last place. It's already been a long time waiting, and I want to help get us there.
I came to camp this year in good shape and ready to go. I had to compete to earn my playing time again. At the end of Spring Training, the club told me I had made the team as the starter. I know I can still play, but I also think I have something to prove.
I've always come to camp in shape but I was especially motivated this offseason to give myself the best opportunity possible to succeed. I knew I had strong competition -- including Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- so I worked my tail off. I wanted to be the guy. My wife stayed on me throughout the winter and I used every day of the offseason to prepare myself. It's worked out well -- so far.
Competing for playing time isn't new to me. We had Rod Barajas for a number of years, and I had to battle him. That experience helped me prepare for this year's competition. I didn't try to do too much. I just wanted to play my game and let it all happen out on the field. It was about controlling what I could control. I never panicked or felt any pressure. It's just been about playing baseball.
I will consider it a successful season if I stay healthy, our team is in the race, and we're winning games. Then it will be a good year. Winning games is the key to a good year. My goal is to do what I can to help achieve that result with my glove and with my bat.
I'm determined to have a good year defensively. Texas has had a reputation for its offense and lack of pitching. I get tired of hearing that. We have a lot of good, intelligent guys on our staff. If I can help them have good years, it will be a good year for me and the team, too.
On a day-to-day basis, I'm going to keep the mentality that I have to earn my job every day during the season. That keeps you on your toes and working hard.
Gerald Laird, who was the Rangers' Opening Day starting catcher for the second straight season, had four hits, homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs in the club's 10-4 win over the Angels on Sunday. Last year he threw out 40 percent of would-be base stealers, which was the third-best rate in the Major Leagues.