ATLANTA -- Gerald Laird is not letting anything interfere with his time getting to know the Braves' pitchers.
Laird says he turned down an invitation to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic because he needs to work with Atlanta's pitchers the full spring training. Laird, who played with Detroit last season, even reported for informal workouts with the pitchers this week at Turner Field.
Laird, whose mother is half-Mexican, signed a two-year, $3 million deal with Atlanta in November to be Brian McCann's backup. Laird is expected to open the season as the starter while McCann recovers from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
The Braves expect McCann to miss only about the first two weeks of the season.