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.