October 18th, 2013
Jim Leyland returned to town Friday afternoon still not sure whether he’ll have catcher Alex Avila available to play Saturday night in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. He also wasn’t sure who might catch if Avila can’t go.
He has not ruled out Victor Martinez.
“That has been thought about, yes,” Leyland said on a Friday conference call.
It’s a possibility the Tigers have kept open all along for the postseason, but for the World Series, not the ALCS. If the Tigers advance, they’ll lose the designated hitter for Games 3-5 in the National League city, either St. Louis or Los Angeles. Martinez, 7-for-18 in this series and 16-for-38 in the postseason, would have to find a position in the field in those games, and he caught three times down the stretch in the regular season without any problems to be prepared.
This is different. Martinez, whose days as even a semi-regular catcher ended with knee surgery last year, could bat in the DH spot in Boston. However, Avila’s absence could leave Leyland deciding whether it’s best to catch Brayan Pena and leave everyone else alone, or catch Martinez, move Miguel Cabrera to DH and play one of his utility infielders at third.
Leyland isn’t ready to take the discussion that far.
“It would be an option, let me put it that way, that you could DH Miggy and catch Victor and then obviously play Santiago or Donnie Kelly at third,” Leyland said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen but it would be an option if Alex were not able to play.”
As for Avila, Leyland said he was still dealing with some soreness in his left knee when the Tigers boarded their team plane for Boston on Friday. They won’t make an evaluation until Saturday.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Leyland said. “I have no idea. I’m hoping Alex Avila can catch. That decision will be way down the road yet.”