Gerald Laird leaves game with knee injury, may get MRI

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Gerald Laird had to be helped off the field after injuring his left knee in a collision with Don Kelly during today’s game.

For now he’s been diagnosed with a sprain, but Tigers reporters watching in person described it as an ugly looking injury and Laird is expected to undergo an MRI exam.

Alex Avila is entrenched as the Tigers’ starting catcher and plays often enough that Laird’s role would be minimal even if healthy, but after losing Victor Martinez to a season-ending knee injury of his own Detroit will be very thin behind the plate if Laird is out for an extended period.

Omir Santos, who was just demoted to Triple-A, could be used to replace Laird.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.