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Notes: Laird carries heavy load

Notes: Laird carries heavy load

SEATTLE -- Many catchers get a day game after a night game off.

But Gerald Laird was in the Rangers' lineup on Sunday for the 47th time, one behind Oakland's Jason Kendall for the most starts by a catcher in the American League. Laird was second behind Kendall in total innings caught but had actually played in two more games.

"Honestly, I feel pretty good," Laird said. "I didn't know that stat. He catches every day, and that's a label I want, a guy who goes out and plays as many games as I can. I take care of my body. I feel really good."

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The one difference is Kendall doesn't have to catch as many pitchers per game as Laird and his backup, Chris Stewart. The Rangers, going into Sunday's game, had thrown 8,504 pitches for an average of 151.9 per game and 17.4 per inning. All were the highest in the American League.

"It's tough mentally," Laird said. "It's a grind mentally, but I've got to do what I have to do. When these guys start believing in their ability and stuff, it will be a lot easier. These guys have tremendous stuff, but we just have to get them to believe it. Until they do that, it's going to be a long game and a lot of pitches."

Laird said the grind hasn't affected him too much at the plate, other than in games where there are a lot of pitches thrown and his legs are tired in the late innings. He's hitting .190 in the seventh inning and later.

He went into Sunday's game hitting .224, but he hit .176 with five RBIs in April and .259 with 14 RBIs in May.

Manager Ron Washington said with the weather turning hot in Texas, he'd like to get Laird a couple of days off per week. The Rangers are off on Monday, and Stewart will start at least once at some point this week as the temperatures push into the 90s.

McCarthy fends off Feldman: The Rangers flew pitcher Scott Feldman into Seattle on Sunday just in case Brandon McCarthy had more trouble with the blister on his right middle finger. Feldman should have just stayed with the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks.

McCarthy threw 38 pitches in the bullpen on Sunday and everything went fine. He'll throw 40-45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday and then start on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

"It went as good as I could have hoped for," McCarthy said. "Everything felt strong, and I had no problems with my finger. It was good. I mixed all my pitches and felt strong."

Young at DH: Michael Young started at designated hitter on Sunday for the second time this season. Washington said this was a planned start even before Young was hit on the left knee with a pitch in Saturday's game.

Young said he did not consider sitting out Sunday's game entirely, even though he was still getting treatment for the knee.

"Nah," Young said. "It's a little sore and swollen, but it's fine."

Washington also gave Sammy Sosa a day off even with a left-hander on the mound. Sosa was hitting .143 in his previous 10 games. He also has not hit a home run since May 22, but hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo agreed with Sosa that he doesn't see him pressing as home run No. 600 approaches.

"I don't see Sammy doing that," Jaramillo said. "If he was doing that, he would be swinging up, trying to lift it. He's not. His swing is still level. He really knows his swing as well as anybody I've ever coached. You don't hit that many home runs on just physical ability. You have to have a strong mental approach."

Hairston watch: Jerry Hairston, sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck, was 0-for-4 at Oklahoma on Saturday and is 1-for-12 in his first three games on a medical rehabilitation assignment. Washington said he will play two more games there and then be activated off the disabled list on Tuesday.

Hairston has played three straight games at shortstop and could come back playing more in the infield than in the outfield. That could mean the Rangers will send down Matt Kata, who went into Sunday's game with just one hit in his last 35 at-bats.

The other option would be outfielder Nelson Cruz. Washington made it clear that Marlon Byrd and Victor Diaz aren't going down when Hairston comes back. Washington said they'll discuss options on Monday.

He said it: "It helps if the other guy is throwing 98 miles per hour. He supplied a lot of the power." -- Mark Teixeira, on his monster home run into the second deck on Saturday night against Mariners reliever J.J. Putz

Saturday's Minor stars:

Gold: Class A Clinton outfielder K.C. Herren went 5-for-6 with two doubles and a triple in leading the LumberKings to a 7-6 victory over Kane County in 11 innings. Herren, the Rangers' No. 2 pick in the 2004 draft, is hitting .333.

Silver: Right-hander Luis Mendoza pitched a seven-inning shutout in Double-A Frisco's 1-0 victory over Tulsa in the first game of a doubleheader. He walked two, struck out two and allowed three hits.

Bronze: Frisco infielder German Duran went 4-for-6 in the doubleheader against Tulsa to lead the Roughriders to a sweep.

Up next: The Rangers are off on Monday and then open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers at 7:35 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Right-hander Vicente Padilla pitches against left-hander Nate Robertson for the Tigers.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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