June 5th, 2012

Avila leaves game, likely headed to DL

Alex Avila’s return behind the plate was supposed to be the best news on the Tigers’ injury front. It lasted just five innings before his right hamstring tightened up again.

Now, the Tigers and Avila await the results of an MRI exam. Judging from a report out of Toledo from the Toledo Blade’s John Wagner late Tuesday night that Bryan Holaday is being called up, a report that another source confirmed, a stint on the disabled list appears to be imminent.

“I checked with him before the game,” Leyland said. “I try not to play guys if I’m suspicious. Maybe in the back of my mind I was a little bit suspicious, but when he came in here today I said ‘How are you doing?’ and he said, ‘I better be in the lineup,’ and I said, ‘Well, you’re in the lineup.’

“We found out it was probably a mistake on my part. If you want to blame somebody, blame me for that.”

Avila missed the previous two games over the weekend against the Yankees after waking up Saturday morning with a tight hamstring. He spent Monday’s off-day receiving treatment on the injury at Comerica Park and said he was ready to go.

One big reason Avila sat over the weekend was the worry that playing and tweaking the hamstring would cause a worse injury and a longer absence. This was pretty much the scenario that played out.

“I was hoping that, with the way I was feeling and the work I was doing, that I was going to be able to play, maybe not at 100 percent but enough to be fine,” Avila said. “It just wasn’t the case. Just got to figure it out.”

Avila threw out Shin-Soo Choo trying to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt to end the fifth inning, but was seen hobbling as he made his way back in the dugout. He promptly went down the tunnel towards the clubhouse.

Realistically, though, Avila said he’d been dealing with the tightness for most of the game.

“It was pretty tight, probably from the second inning on,” Avila said. “I started feeling it. It never really got loose. On that [throw], I really felt it pull and figured that right about there, I couldn’t really push it anymore.”

Gerald Laird, who also missed the previous two games with a tight right hamstring, replaced Avila to begin the sixth inning. The Tigers still have Omir Santos on the roster, so they’re not in an emergency scenario.

Still, they’re in a tough enough situation that Laird was trotting gingerly around the bases when he reached in the ninth inning.

“I just wanted to make sure I’m about it,” Laird said, pointing out that he wasn’t the potential tying run.

Holaday’s call-up will trigger a shuffle of the Tigers’ catching prospects, with highly-valued catching prospect Rob Brantly heading to Toledo. James McCann, last year’s top Tigers draft pick, is expected to take over at Erie after being called up from Class A Lakeland.

Tuesday: Tigers vs. Indians (updated with Lopez out)

Remember all the talk about Jim Leyland not caring about the guys who get on base so much as the guys who drive them in? Well, he does have some heart for the OBP guys, apparently, because he cited it as a reason for starting Matt Young tonight against the Indians in the second spot in the order.

“What I do like about him, to be honest with you, and this is kind of being a geek with the numbers, and I’m not into that geek stuff with the numbers, but he does have a pretty good on-base percentage down in Toledo,” Jim Leyland said. “So it looks like he might be able to work the pitcher a little bit, maybe take a walk. He’s not an automatic out. He’s going to give you everything he has.”

Young has 46 walks in 51 games with the Mud Hens, which explains how someone batting .259 could have a .431 on-base percentage.

For the record, the last time the Tigers had two players in the lineup named Young, it was June 17, 2003, and Dmitri Young and Ernie Young were both starting. It’s also the first time a guy named Matt Young has faced the Indians in 20 years. The pitcher Matt Young threw a no-hitter in Cleveland and lost on April 12, 1992.


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

P: Drew Smyly


  1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  4. Carlos Santana, DH
  5. Jose Lopez, 3B Shelley Duncan, LF
  6. Michael Brantley, CF
  7. Shelley Duncan, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B
  8. Matt LaPorta, 1B Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
  9. Lou Marson, C

P: Ubaldo Jimenez

Tigers go pitching with first pick

Round 2, Jake Thompson, RHP, Rockwall-Heath High School, Texas

With the 91st overall pick on the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Tigers went with pitching. They selected Jake Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-handed pitcher out of Rockwall-Heath High School in Heath, Texas.

According to his bio on MLB.com, the 18-year-old has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and is accompanied by a slider and changeup. In an interview with Scout.com, Thompson said he also has a sinker, describing himself as a “fastball-sinker guy.”

Thompson is committed to play ball for TCU, next season, however, the hope is that he’ll decide to sign. Thompson told Scout.com he’ll weigh the options and make a “smart decision.”

“I think everybody wants to play professional baseball and I do for sure,” he said. “It just depends at what point I go and play … I just want to make sure that the decision makes sense.”

Round 3, Austin Schotts, OF, Centennial High School, Texas

The Tigers took another Texas high school player with their third-round selection. At pick No. 121, outfielder Austin Schotts, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder out of Centennial High School was taken.

His MLB.com bio describe him as having “incredible speed” and “great range.” Schotts played shortstop in high school, however, if he forgoes his commitment to play for Oklahoma State, the Tigers hope to turn him into a center fielder.

The bio also called him one of the more “polished” prep bats, but said he could be a tough sign.

Round 4, Drew VerHagen, RHP, Vanderbilt

The 6-foot-6, right-handed junior out of Vanderbilt was taken by the Tigers with pick no. 154 in the fourth round. VerHagen is another Texas-native and is actually from the same high school as Thompson.

He is 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 27 appearances and seven starts for the Commodores this season and is expected to be a reliever in the big leagues.

Round 5, Joe Rogers, LHP, Central Florida

The Tigers went for another arm in the fifth round, making it three out of their first four picks that they took pitching. With the 184th pick, the Tigers nabbed Joe Rogers, a left-hander out of Central Florida.

Rogers is a six-foot, 200-pound junior who went 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 39 1/3 innings of relief as a captain for the Knights. According to Mark Anderson of Scout.com, Rogers has a upper-80s, low-90s fastball with a curveball and a changeup.

Round 6, Jordan John, LHP, Oklahoma

John is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-hander that went 8-5 with a 2.23 ERA in 22 appearances for the Sooners this season. He struck out 86 batters over 96 2/3 innings.

Round 7, Hudson Randall, RHP, Florida

As a sophomore, Randall was chosen as an Honorable Mention All-American by College Baseball Insider. As a junior, Randall is leading the pitching staff of what is ranked as the No. 1 college team in the country. He is 8-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 14 starts for the Gators.

Round 8, Jeff McVaney, LF, Texas State University

McVaney leads Texas State in almost all hitting categories. He owns a .338 batting average with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, 48 RBIs and has scored 46 runs in 56 games. His father John McVaney, played in the Majors for the Orioles.

Round 9, Jake Stewart, CF, Stanford

Stewart was drafted in the 14th round by the Phillies out of high school but elected to play ball for Stanford. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound center fielder is hitting .290 in 46 games for the Cardinal. He is second on the team in doubles (15) and third in RBIs (27).

Round 10, Charles Gillies, RHP, The Master’s College

Was named the Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after leading the conference in innings pitched (92 2/3), ERA (1.94), opposing batting average (.180) and strikeouts (108).

Round 11, Bennett Pickar, C, Oral Roberts

Round 12, Julio Felix, RHP, Pima Community College

Round 13, Devon Travis, 2B, Florida State

Round 14, Hunter Scantling, RHP, Florida State

Round 15, Jordan Dean, SS, Central Michigan