August 9th, 2013

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Yankees

Yankee Stadium 004A lot of talk about number 13 around here — no, the other one. Alex Avila has been medically cleared to play, but the recommendation from the team medical staff was that he could use a day to rest. He was initially in the Tigers starting lineup, then removed for Brayan Pena. Nevertheless, there were a lot of teammates relieved to see him back and happy to hear that he’s all right.

Jose Iglesias is also back, starting at shortstop after missing last night’s game in Cleveland with a bruised toe. Ramon Santiago said his left leg feels better, but Jim Leyland isn’t going to take a chance on that. Hernan Perez gets the start at second. That’s a pretty good middle infield behind Rick Porcello, who leads the AL in groundball/flyball ratio.

TIGERS (career numbers off Ivan Nova)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (5-for-13, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (3-for-10, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (2-for-11, HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (2-for-7, HR, K)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-6, 3 walks, K)
  6. Andy Dirks, LF (1-for-3, walk, K)
  7. Brayan Pena, C
  8. Hernan Perez, 2B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Rick Porcello

YANKEES (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Brett Gardner, CF (2-for-11, walk, K)
  2. Ichiro Suzuki, RF (7-for-22, 3 K’s)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (6-for-18, 2 walks)
  4. Alfonso Soriano, DH (3-for-6)
  5. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (2-for-9, K)
  6. Curtis Granderson, LF (4-for-14, 5 K’s)
  7. Lyle Overbay, 1B (1-for-10, walk, K)
  8. Eduardo Nunez, SS (2-for-3)
  9. Chris Stewart, C (0-for-3)

P: Ivan Nova

Avila examined, cleared to play tonight

The news out of Detroit was good for catcher Alex Avila, who was examined this morning in Detroit for a possible concussion and cleared to play tonight in New York. He’s on his way to the Big Apple now. 

While the Tigers flew to New York last night, Avila returned home for further examination after leaving Thursday’s game against the Indians with symptoms of a possible concussion. He took a foul tip in the fourth inning and told manager Jim Leyland and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand initially that he was fine, then complained of dizziness and nausea an inning later.

No word yet whether Avila will be in the starting lineup.

Avila examined for possible concussion

The Tigers left Cleveland with their first four-game road sweep of the Indians in 25 years and a seven-game lead in the AL Central. Unfortunately, they also left without catcher Alex Avila, and it’s not clear when they’re going to get him back.

Avila was taken to a local hospital and tested for a possible concussion after he complained of symptoms during Thursday’s win over the Indians. While the Tigers took off for New York after the game, Avila was scheduled to head back to Detroit for further examination.

Even if the tests were characterized as precautionary, the level of concern throughout the Tigers clubhouse seemed serious.

“I’m actually pretty concerned,” Max Scherzer said. “You see how many times he’s getting just worn out in the face mask. You just wonder how many times those add up. So you really wish him the best.”

Avila took a foul tip behind the plate in the fourth inning and received a visit from manager Jim Leyland and Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand after home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa noticed bleeding around his ear. An initial exam, Leyland said, suggested the bleeding was outside the ear, rather than inside.

“One of the questions I asked him was, ‘Is your vision and everything OK? Are you light-headed?’ And he was fine,” Leyland said. “But when he came into the dugout, evidently he went down underneath. And when Kevin was checking him out, he told him he was nauseous and light-headed.

“When you hear that kind of information, you take guys out. You don’t mess around with that.”

Brayan Pena, who caught all 14 innings of Wednesday night’s victory, replaced Avila behind the plate for the bottom of the fifth.

It’s the second time in as many years Avila has left a game in Cleveland with concussion symptoms. The Tigers were here last September when Avila collided with first baseman Prince Fielder in front of the Tigers dugout chasing a pop-up. Avila had similar symptoms and missed four games.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been concerned about it,” Leyland said, “but normally … I mean, when I was out there talking to him, he said he was fine and vision was good. But evidently he got nausea and that. I don’t want to predict anything, but that’s usually not a good sign.”

Avila was the only member of the Tigers starting lineup not to reach base safely in Thursday’s 10-3 victory. His batting average fell back under the Mendoza line to .198 (it stood at .200 entering the game) with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. He entered Thursday batting .318 (14-for-44) with three homers and 15 RBIs since July 20.

If Avila’s situation becomes more than a day-to-day matter, the Tigers have a decision to make: Put Victor Martinez back behind the plate in a backup capacity, or put Avila on the disabled list and call up Bryan Holaday. Major League Baseball has a seven-day concussion DL just for such situations, so that teams can take precautions without having to lose players for 15 days.