Results tagged ‘ Alex Avila ’

Tuesday: Tigers at Twins

Good to be back on the beat in Minnesota, where the air is sticky tonight and the clouds are threatening but the worst weather so far is staying to the south and east. Should be able to get in tonight’s game on time.

Tigers still don’t have Gerald Laird available, but he’s feeling pretty good and hopes to be back tomorrow for lefty Francisco Liriano. Alex Avila gets his fourth straight start behind the plate.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Peralta, SS
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Damon, DH
  8. Wells, RF
  9. Avila, C

P: Armando Galarraga

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Jason Kubel, RF
  5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
  6. Delmon Young, DH
  7. Danny Valencia, 3B
  8. Jason Repko, LF
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

P: Brian Duensing

Galarraga, Avila argue in Tigers dugout

Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and catcher Alex Avila had to be separated by teammates during a dugout dispute in the second inning of Galarraga’s start Sunday against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Galarraga had finished off the White Sox in the bottom of the first inning when he jogged into the dugout and went directly to Avila, his catcher, to have words. The dispute quickly escalated to the point that several teammates, including Johnny Damon, intervened. Fellow catcher Gerald Laird got involved, initially to break up the incident, then appeared to start arguing with Galarraga as well before shortstop Ramon Santiago pulled Galarraga away and sat him down.

It was an bizarre altercation to have for a pitching-catching battery that had just finished off a scoreless opening inning. Galarraga retired Chicago’s first two batters and had a two-strike count on Paul Konerko before giving up a single to left. Galarraga threw four straight two-seam fastballs to Konerko, according to MLB.com’s Gameday application.

In the larger context of Galarraga’s season, though, the dispute might be a sign of the larger issue the Tigers have had with him: Finding his confidence. Manager Jim Leyland has said often over the last couple weeks that Galarraga has to trust his ability more and pitch more aggressively to hitters rather than nibbling on the corners.

Galarraga worked with Laird in his last start and seemingly battled his command as well as confidence. He missed his spots badly on some pitches, usually more away from the strike zone.

Galaraga has plenty of reason for his own frustration. He’s winless in his last seven starts and entered the day with a 1-4 record and 5.10 ERA in 11 starts since his would-be perfect game June 2.

Monday: Tigers at Twins

The Tigers have just started batting practice here at Target Field, and the reviews so far today have been positive. Compared with the cramped visiting clubhouse and funkiness of the Metrodome, this place feels almost palatial.

As Miguel Cabrera succinctly put it, “This is big league.”

Supposedly the positives hear include heating coils underneath the playing field, so that the field will never get cooler than about 42 degrees. That shouldn’t become an issue tonight, but nonetheless, it’s going to be a chilly evening for baseball.

Much like Alex Avila catching Justin Verlander for the first time Sunday, Gerald Laird is catching Max Scherzer for the first time in a regular-season game. Manager Jim Leyland said this afternoon that Laird will catch the first two games of the series, with Avila catching the getaway afternoon game Wednesday.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Raburn, RF
  8. Laird, C
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Max Scherzer

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  3. Justin Morneau, 1B
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  6. Jason Kubel, LF
  7. J.J. Hardy, SS
  8. Wilson Ramos, C
  9. Nick Punto, 3B

P: Scott Baker

Wednesday: Tigers at Angels

Alex Avila is back in the lineup for the third time in four days against Jered Weaver, who has held Gerald Laird to 1-for-15 in his career. Manager Jim Leyland pointed out the hard line drives Laird hit right at defenders Tuesday, but 1-for-15 is 1-for-15.

Brandon Inge, meanwhile, gets a game off. He’s 2-for-10 against Weaver, though Leyland talked about the cool, rainy conditions among the reasons to give him this night off. Don Kelly is at third.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Kelly, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Santiago, SS
  9. Sizemore, 2B
P: Jeremy Bonderman
ANGELS
  1. Erick Aybar, SS
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF (8-for-14 off Bonderman)
  3. Torii Hunter, CF (14-for-33 off Bonderman)
  4. Hideki Matsui, DH (12-for-24, 3 HRs off Bonderman)
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Juan Rivera, LF
  7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  8. Mike Napoli, C
  9. Brandon Wood, 3B
P: Jered Weaver

Monday: Tigers at Angels

Alex Avila takes a hit and keeps playing. He’s back in the starting lineup for the second straight game. Gerald Laird is just 2-for-13 lifetime off Angels starter Joel Pineiro. 

There’s a story on Avila’s take on the hit coming on the site tonight. He said Sunday he loves being able to take a hit like that. To him, that’s baseball. It sounds a little like his manager, who was describing the worst hit he ever took back in 1969 from former player turned umpire John Shulock, whom Leyland said banged his knee into his face so hard he broke Leyland’s nose.
“I think I caught the next night without a mask,” Leyland joked.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS
P: Dontrelle Willis
ANGELS
  1. Erick Aybar, SS
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF
  3. Torii Hunter, CF
  4. Hideki Matsui, DH
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Juan Rivera, LF
  7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  8. Jeff Mathis, C
  9. Brandon Wood, 3B
P: Joel Pineiro

Saturday: Tigers vs. Mariners

As expected, Ryan Raburn is in right field today, with Magglio Ordonez at DH. Raburn is batting second today in place of Johnny Damon, who gets the night off.

That was expected. What wasn’t expected was that Gerald Laird was iffy for today with back soreness. That was the reason Jim Leyland took him out of last night’s game for the late innings. It wasn’t just a matter of resting some regulars in a game that was out of hand. However, Laird said today he feels good enough to play, so he gets the start behind the plate. Laird and Sizemore flip in the batting order, though. Alex Avila will start Sunday with Max Scherzer on the mound.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Raburn, RF
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Sizemore, 2B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Justin Verlander

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Chone Figgins, 2B
  3. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
  4. Jose Lopez, 3B
  5. Ken Griffey Jr., DH
  6. Milton Bradley, LF
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. Adam Moore, C
  9. Jack Wilson, SS

P: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Why Santiago hit with game on the line

I talked about this in my game story on the Tigers site, but I figured the question’s going to come up: If Johnny Damon was going to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, why not have him hit for Ramon Santiago rather than Gerald Laird?

I asked Jim Leyland about it after the game. If Damon bats in Santiago’s place and draws a walk, it loads the bases for Gerald Laird with Alex Avila and Adam Everett as the remaining two hitters on the bench. And there was a good reason to lean against sending up Avila in that situation.

“I wanted a veteran guy up there,” Leyland said. “That’s why I hit Damon
[for Laird] instead of Avila. I just thought the veteran guy would take
closer pitches for balls. I felt comfortable with Santi. If I hit
Damon [for him], they might walk him, and then I hit Avila for Laird.”

I think it says a lot of what Leyland thinks of Santiago as a hitter, and with good reason. He’s 30 years old now with more than 1,400 Major League plate appearances under his belt.

Avila catches; Valverde, Zumaya rest

Remember the concern going a week or two ago about how many starts Jim Leyland would find for Alex Avila behind the plate? That seems to be dissipating now, because it’s becoming obvious Leyland is finding his spots. The fact that Gerald Laird is still looking for his first hit of the season might not hurt, but still, if Avila gets a couple games a week, they’re going to be happy.

If they can get Jose Valverde outings three days in a row, the Tigers are going to be happy too. But they aren’t going to go beyond that, which is why Valverde is off today. So are Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke. If there’s a save situation today, Leyland says Ryan Perry is going to get it. He does not have a Major League save yet.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS

P: Jeremy Bonderman

Wednesday: Tigers at Royals

It took until Game 2 this season for manager Jim Leyland to want to ward off questions about his day-to-day lineups, probably because he didn’t want to answer a bunch of questions about his changes for the second game. His past history shows that he usually tries to get in all of his position players within the first few games.

In the case of Alex Avila, that means he’s catching today. He’ll have Gerald Laird catching Dontrelle tomorrow and Rick Porcello for the home opener on Friday, so if he was going to get Avila a game within the first four days, now was the time.

“If I’m not going to catch him, I shouldn’t have brought him,” Leyland said. “I’m going to play everybody. That’s what a team’s all about, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Likewise, Leyland said Ryan Raburn will start at second base on Thursday, but said it doesn’t mean anything about Scott Sizemore’s status. He’s going to watch Sizemore and third baseman Brandon Inge and try to get them rest.

“We’re going to need them all,” Leyland said, “and I’m going to play them all.”

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Max Scherzer

ROYALS

  1. David DeJesus, RF
  2. Scott Podsednik, LF
  3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
  4. Billy Butler, 1B
  5. Rick Ankiel, CF
  6. Jose Guillen, DH
  7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
  8. Jason Kendall, C
  9. Chris Getz, 2B

P: Luke Hochevar

Tigers down to 27, Avila makes team

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Tigers’ catcher of the future will be their backup catcher of the present. Alex Avila will open the season in the big leagues, the Tigers decided Tuesday morning.

The move became official Tuesday morning once the team assigned veteran backup catcher Robinzon Diaz to minor league camp. Avila received the call from his father, Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, Monday night over dinner.

The Tigers also optioned shortstop Brent Dlugach to Triple-A Toledo. Infielder/outfielder Jeff Larish and relievers Josh Rainwater and Robbie Weinhardt were assigned to minor league camp. The moves reduce the Tigers’ roster to 27 players; they have until Sunday to finalize their 25-man roster, but are expected to do that within the next day or two.

The moves with Dlugach and Larish leave the battle for the final positional roster spot down to utilityman Don Kelly and outfielder Clete Thomas. That decision could come in the next 24 hours. The one decision left after that is the pitching staff, where Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson are battling for the final two spots in the rotation.

For the backup catching spot, the choice was essentially a decision on Avila, who has had only one full season as a pro after converting to catcher a few years ago at the University of Alabama. Avila started at DH Monday against the Blue Jays and went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in what should be his final action before he finds out where he’ll open the season. The Tigers know he can hit in the big leagues, and his .394 average this spring hasn’t disappointed.

The Tigers had to make their best judgment whether he was better off catching a couple days per week in Detroit behind starter Gerald Laird or catching every day at Toledo.
Diaz was essentially the backup option if the Tigers chose the latter.

Avila spent the final two months last season with the Tigers and provided an offensive boost with his left-handed power bat. However, he caught only sparingly in September behind Laird, whose defense and game-calling skills made him a regular option despite his offensive struggles last year.

Laird has shown strong signs of being a better hitter this spring, but the Tigers still value Avila for his bat. He’ll also likely work on his catching on the side in Detroit.

Two of the three rotation candidates start Tuesday. While Jeremy Bonderman starts in a Triple-A game at Tigertown, Dontrelle Willis will be with the big club facing the Orioles Tuesday afternoon in Sarasota, Fla. It’ll be his first road start this spring, and it’ll be a good test if the Tigers needed it in their decisions.

Nate Robertson is scheduled to make his final spring tuneup Thursday against the Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. By then, the decision will most likely have been made. What happens with the guy who doesn’t make the rotation, whoever that is, is another matter.

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