May 31st, 2012

Avila leaves game after foul tip off mask/nose

The Tigers, who have battled a rash of injuries over the last two weeks, had another from an unexpected player. Catcher Alex Avila left Thursday’s series finale against the Red Sox after taking a third-inning foul tip hard off his catching mask that busted up his nose.

Avila was pulled from the game for precautionary reasons, the Tigers announced later. An examination from doctors revealed no symptoms of a concussion.

Avila is known for taking a slew of foul tips and pitches off his body and enduring, earning him a reputation as one of the toughest catchers in the Majors. That toughness allowed him to catch 133 games last year, making him a fixture down the stretch after his backup, Victor Martinez, suffered a knee injury.

That said, Avila was clearly rattled when Ryan Sweeney fouled off a 96 mph fastball from Max Scherzer went up off Sweeney’s bat and into Avila’s mask before rolling.

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand immediately attended to Avila as manager Jim Leyland joined him out from the dugout. A broadcast replay caught blood streaming down from Avila’s nose as Rand attended to him.

After a lengthy discussion, Avila walked off the field on his own power, with Rand and Leyland joining him. Avila’s backup, Gerald Laird, replaced him behind the plate.

Ironically, the Tigers called up a third catcher, Omir Santos, on Wednesday. He was brought up to allow Leyland to use one of his other catchers at designated hitter without worrying about what to do if his other catcher was injured. He didn’t envision this kind of scenario.

Brookens ejected again

For the second time in a week, Tigers first-base coach Tom Brookens was ejected from a game. This time, first-base umpire Jeff Nelson ejected him in the second inning for arguing over a close play at the bag in the first inning.

The play in question happened with the second batter of the game. Brennan Boesch grounded out to short, but replays showed it was a very close call as to whether he beat Mike Aviles’ throw.

Brookens immediately exchanged words with Nelson on the call, then continued it later in the inning. Once Brookens took the field again for the second batter of the game, he apparently picked up the argument with Nelson, who promptly tossed before the Red Sox defense was in place.

Infield coach Rafael Belliard quickly jogged out of the Tigers dugout to take Brookens’ place in the first-base coaching box.

It came exactly a week after Brookens was ejected by first-base umpire Paul Emmel in Cleveland for arguing that Indians pitcher Justin Masterson balked with a runner on first. Replays showed Masterson never came set before going into his delivery.

Brookens said earlier this week that Emmel had warned him that he wasn’t going to hear any more argument, then promptly tossed after the next thing Brookens said. Brookens said he did not use a curse word.

Neither Brookens nor the Tigers staff knew if umpires were operating under a new philosophy on not allowing continued arguments, but the same stance seemed in place when third-base umpire Tim Tschida ejected Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont on Monday.

There does seem to be a limited tolerance,” Brookens said Tuesday.

The Tigers have to wonder. Leyland and members of his coaching staff have been ejected six times on their 10-game road trip.

Thursday: Tigers at Red Sox

Apparently the Andy Dirks Achilles injury is more serious than a simple day off could remedy. He’s not in the lineup. Don Kelly takes his place. Brennan Boesch moves back to the second spot.


  1. Quintin Berry, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Don Kelly, LF
  9. Danny Worth, 2B

P: Max Scherzer


  1. Scott Podsednik, CF
  2. Daniel Nava, LF
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 3B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  7. Ryan Sweeney, RF
  8. Mike Aviles, SS
  9. Nick Punto, 2B

P: Josh Beckett