LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Astros have several intriguing roster decisions to make in the 10 days prior to their March 31 opener, against the Rangers, and those have been made even more intriguing by the performance of infielder Brandon Laird.
Laird, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last September, began play on Thursday hitting .350 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 40 at-bats, getting time at first and third base. The 25-year-old isn't on the 40-man roster, but he's making a strong case to make the club.
He strengthened that case on Thursday, taking Detroit ace Justin Verlander deep for a two-run homer.
"I feel it's going pretty well," Laird said. "I'm doing whatever they ask me to do. At the plate right now, I'm feeling pretty good and confident and just getting good pitches, just getting in good hitters' counts and putting good swings on it."
Laird made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 2011, appearing in 22 games, but he's never been on an Opening Day roster.
"That's what I play for," he said. "To make the team out of spring is something I've always looked forward to. With the Yankees, it was kind of tough over there. I've been here and there's a lot of opportunity, and whatever happens, happens, and I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully in the next week or two, we'll find out."
Laird was drafted in the 27th round out of Cypress College in California and is a career .272 hitter in the Minor Leagues with 100 homers and 438 RBIs. He appeared in 17 games for the Astros last year and hit .257 with a homer and four RBIs.