June 2012

Avila having sore left knee examined

Gerald Laird is starting behind the plate for the Tigers, and he might have done so regardless of Alex Avila’s situation, since Avila caught all three games in Pittsburgh. However, Avila’s left knee is giving him trouble, and it has the Tigers concerned.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We’re having it looked at, but I could tell he wasn’t feeling right in Pittsburgh. He wasn’t moving right. … I’m more concerned with this becuase he was off for 15 days (with the hamstring strain), and it’s sore.”

Avila said he was feeling pain in the knee on Sunday. It was particularly bad after the game, so the Tigers scheduled him for an MRI exam Monday morning. A Texas Rangers doctor will look over the results and check out the knee himself Monday evening.

“I mean, some days are better than others. Some days, it’s not as painful. It kind of gets to a point where I want to be able to knock it out and not have to deal with it, or least be able to manage it a little better. …

“It’s frustrating, because I was on the DL and had days off, and right when I come off, I start getting pain again, which is kind of concerning for me. I don’t understand why I would be having pain in my knee when I got off the DL.”

Avila said he doesn’t believe there’s anything structurally wrong with his knee, because he’s able to squat. It’s running and hitting that brings out the soreness. He’s frustrated, he said, because he had trouble near the end of last year, geared his offseason workout program to strengthen it, and now is feeling soreness again.

“All last year, at least the second half, I was playing with it and got it to a point where this may be something that I didn’t get fully taken care of and didn’t realize what kind of damage I did,” he said. “I’m getting another opinion today, so we’ll find out what he says.”

Saturday: Tigers at Pirates

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Max Scherzer, P

PIRATES

  1. Alex Presley, LF
  2. Jose Tabata, RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Garrett Jones, 1B
  5. Neil Walker, 2B
  6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  7. Rod Barajas, C
  8. Josh Harrison, SS
  9. Brad Lincoln, P

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Pirates

No DH this weekend, which left Jim Leyland having to decide whether and how to keep Quintin Berry’s bat in the lineup. He starts tonight against A.J. Burnett. Brennan Boesch sits, though he’s 3-for-7 lifetime off Burnett.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Doug Fister, P

PIRATES

  1. Alex Presley, LF
  2. Neil Walker, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Garrett Jones, RF
  5. Casey McGehee, 1B
  6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  7. Rod Barajas, C
  8. Clint Barmes, SS
  9. A.J. Burnett, P

Austin Wood retires from Tigers organization

Austin Wood, the lefty reliever made famous after throwing 169 pitches for the University of Texas during an NCAA tournament game in 2009, has retired, sources confirmed Thursday morning.

His decision comes three years after he achieved notoriety in college for his  12 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in the longest game in NCAA history, a 25-inning marathon that Texas won over Boston College in 7 hours, 3 minutes. The Tigers drafted in the fifth round of that year’s First-Year Player Draft a few weeks later.

Wood missed virtually the entire 2010 season with shoulder surgery, but came back to post a 5-5 record and 3.16 ERA in 50 appearances for at Double-A Erie, striking out 61 batters over 62 2/3 innings. He had similar success at Erie this year, but struggled in a few different stints at Triple-A Toledo, allowing 19 hits and 12 walks over 12 2/3 innings.

The 25-year-old told Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin after Wednesday night’s game and left the team. The move caught Tigers officials by surprise.

Avila activated from DL, Holaday optioned to Toledo

Gerald Laird’s hamstrings are fine this morning after he cramped up last night, so the Tigers optioned Bryan Holaday to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Alex Avila’s return from the 15-day disabled list.

Interestingly, Holaday will not replace Rob Brantly, who was promoted from Double-A Erie to fill the catching duties when Holaday was called up and Omir Santos declined an assignment back to Toledo. Instead, Holaday and Brantly will share catching duties, giving the Mud Hens a platoon of talented young catchers.

Raburn can now decline option to minor leagues

Wednesday was a very big milestone for Ryan Raburn, and another potential roster road block for the Tigers. If Detroit wants to option Raburn to Triple-A Toledo again, they’ll need his approval.

Credit WalkoffWoodward.com and Chris Iott of MLive.com for picking up on it last week. Based on the Major League calendar of service time, Raburn today achieves enough time to qualify for five Major League seasons. According to the collective bargaining agreement, he has the right to decline a minor-league option, even though the Tigers still have an option available to use on him.

What Raburn has is a different scenario than having his options used up. A player who’s out of options must pass through waivers before he’s outrighted to the minors, giving every other Major League club a shot at claiming him if they’re willing to keep him on their 25-man roster. If the Tigers tried to option Raburn and he declined it, he would stay with Detroit. he would become a free agent, free to sign with any club. Sorry for the mix-up. Just got a clarification from a baseball source.

Updated: Laird leaves game with left hamstring cramping

UPDATE: The Tigers optioned Luke Putkonen back to Toledo to make room for Jacob Turner in time for his start Thursday, but they held off on activating Alex Avila until they can assess Laird in the morning. If he’s good enough to serve as a backup catcher, the Tigers will likely option Bryan Holaday to Toledo. If Laird is going to miss anything more than a day or two, don’t be surprised if he ends up on the 15-day DL.

“He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow. We’ll see what we have to do,” Leyland said. “It’s obviously pretty simple: Holaday will either stay and Laird will go on the DL, or Holaday will go down and Alex will be here and Gerald will be backing him up.”

Just as the Tigers were readying to get back to full strength at catcher with Alex Avila’s return, the injury bug has struck again. This time, it again hit Gerald Laird, who left Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals with what the team termed as left hamstring cramping.

Laird is listed as day-to-day.

Laird missed time earlier this month with a strained right hamstring when he tried to hustle out an infield hit. This time, he seemingly injured himself tagging up from first base on a fly ball to center field. He grabbed at the back of his leg afterwards, prompting head athletic trainer Kevin Rand to emerge from the dugout.

Laird limped back to the clubhouse almost immediately. Bryan Holaday pinch-ran for him, then replaced him at catcher for the sixth inning.

The Tigers are expected to have Avila back for Thursday’s series finale, so they’re covered. However, they’ll have to decide whether they can afford to option Holaday back to Triple-A Toledo to open a spot for Avila, as had been previously expected. Avila went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

If the Tigers send out Holaday, they could have Avila as their only healthy catcher, with utility player Don Kelly as an emergency backup. But they also have limited options for sending out other players. Ryan Raburn reached the five-year mark in Major League service time on Wednesday, earning him the right to decline an option to the minor leagues. Danny Worth had been splitting time at second base before ceding more starts to Ramon Santiago lately.

Valverde out at least next few days with sprained wrist

Jose Valverde will miss at least the next 3-4 days with what has been disagnosed with a sprained right wrist, but neither the closer nor the Tigers expect him to require a stint on the disabled list while he recovers.

Valverde, who suffered the injury while warming up in the bullpen Tuesday night, underwent an MRI exam that showed inflammation around the flexor tendon in his wrist, Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Wednesday afternoon. He’ll wear a wrist immobilizer for the next few days before he’s re-examined.

If he’s pain-free at that point, he can try to throw.

“We’re just going to treat him day to day and go from there,” Rand said.

The Tigers medical staff is not expecting that to take long.

“We’re not thinking it’s a long-term situation,” Rand said.

Earlier, Valverde said he still felt soreness in the wrist, but that it was a little better than it was last night.

“Last night, when I threw the last pitch, I couldn’t move my fingers,” Valverde said. “It hurt too bad last night. I couldn’t do anything. I’m a guy who wants to compete all the time. Something simple, I’d never shut it down. But last night, I couldn’t do anything. …

“It’s better today than yesterday. That’s why I think it’ll soon go away.”

With Valverde out, manager Jim Leyland he’ll use his relievers by matchup when it comes to save situations. Phil Coke earned the save Tuesday night, but Joaquin Benoit filled in for Valverde while he was sidelined with back soreness earlier this season.

Octavio Dotel also has closing experience over his many Major League stops and stepped in to get the save after Valverde’s back issues forced him out May 15 at Chicago, though he failed miserably in a save situation a week earlier in Seattle.

Even if he’s not closing, though, Dotel has the potential to be a critical piece. If Benoit’s closing, or if Benoit’s off, Dotel becomes the primary right-handed reliever.

“He’s a big key for us right now,” Leyland said.

Wednesday lineups: Tigers vs. Cardinals

Same as yesterday.

TIGERS

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

P: Rick Porcello

Avila rehab update

The catching portion of Alex Avila’s rehab assignment has ended without a hitch. He caught five innings of Adam Wilk and went 2-for-2 with a walk in the Mud Hens win over Lehigh Valley.

The evening gave Avila plenty of chances to test his hamstring while running the bases, which was arguably the biggest question going into this assignment. He was caught in a first-inning rundown on the basepaths and come out of it all right, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade.

Avila is scheduled to serve as the DH for the Mud Hens Wednesday night. He’s also scheduled to serve as a celebrity ice cream scooper at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit Wednesday morning. Unless something happens Wednesday, Avila will be activated from the DL in time for Thursday’s game against the Cardinals, which fellow Mud Hen Jacob Turner is scheduled to start.

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