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06/18/08 8:17 PM ET
Injured Bradley on bench; lineup shuffled
Slugger strained left quad on Tuesday, may return Thursday
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Nobody is panicking about Milton Bradley's strained left quad. But for at least one day, manager Ron Washington will have to thoroughly reshuffle his lineup. Bradley was out of the lineup Wednesday although there had been hope he'd be able to play after straining his left quadriceps legging out a single in the third inning of Tuesday's game against Atlanta. Washington gave Bradley Wednesday off and plans to start him in Thursday's day game with the Braves.
"Milton came in pretty good today, but he felt another day would do him some good," Washington said. "He came in and worked on it and it felt pretty good, but we'll try to get him back in the lineup Thursday."
With Bradley out Wednesday, the lineup adjustments began with the cleanup spot.
Josh Hamilton was moved from the third spot to the fourth spot, and Michael Young moved from the second spot down to the third spot. Washington then slotted Gerald Laird in the two-hole to replace Young behind Ian Kinsler.
"I've tried putting some bunts down lately, but haven't been getting them down, so hopefully I can if I need to," Laird said. "But, basically, if Kinsler's on base, I'm just going to try to hit it on the ground and move him over."
Laird usually finds himself batting between the sixth and eighth spots, but batting second isn't a first for him. He batted second once this season and now might be the perfect time to reinsert him there.
Laird, who's batting .298 this season, is 11-for-20 in his last five games and he's hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
"When you look down the lineup, he's the best guy available," Washington said. "I didn't want to move up somebody who we need to drive in runs. As far as moving runners and getting bunts down, I think Gerald can hold his own."
One of those players Washington hopes will be driving in runs from the bottom half of the order is Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The catcher was the key chip in the seven-player trade that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta on July 31 last season. One day after Teixeira faced his former club for the first time, Saltalamacchia will do the same, which is a day earlier than scheduled.
Saltalamacchia, who wasn't supposed to play until Thursday, will fill the designated hitter spot Wednesday, which is where Bradley would have been. Saltalamacchia played only 47 games with the Braves, all in 2007, but he hit .284 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.
Even though the absence of Bradley's bat in the lineup gives Saltalamacchia an extra game against his old team, he doesn't think he has any advantage at the plate, despite having risen through the Braves' system with their pitchers.
"In this game, everybody makes changes," Saltalamacchia said. "I'm sure all those guys have changed their approach since last season."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.