The life of a catcher is never comfortable, but the last two games have been especially painful for Detroit Tigers backstop Alex Avila. Despite a few lumps behind the plate and a hit-by-pitch at the plate, Avila was able to tough it out in Wednesday's Game 4. But he couldn't survive a home plate collision with Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross, leaving Game 5 in the fourth inning.
According to the Tigers, Avila suffered a patella tendon strain in the collision. Despite being in obvious pain, Avila did attempt to play through his latest ailment for another two innings. He flied out to left field in his only at-bat, and later had his cage rattled again by a foul tip. That's when manager Jim Leyland finally decided to throw in the towel for his catcher, pinch-hitting with Brayan Pena in the fourth.
It was a big situation that Pena stepped into, too, so clearly Leyland and company felt Avila was going to be limited. Trailing 4-0 at the time, Detroit had runners at first and second against Jon Lester with one out. But the rally ended there, as Pena grounded into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
In the sixth inning, Pena stepped up in the same situation and redeemed himself with an RBI, narrowing their deficit to 4-2. The Tigers still lost 4-3, however, to fall behind 3-2 in the series.
The Tigers are listing Avila as day-to-day. That could obviously change once the trainers give him a closer look and consult with Leyland, but the Tigers will hope to have him back and healthy enough to produce when the series moves to Boston on Saturday.
After the game, Avila said he plans to do just that, play.
Alex Avila plans to play Saturday. Said he would have done the exact same thing Ross did if situation were reversed.
— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) October 18, 2013
It didn't seem like there was any hard feelings out of either clubhouse, according to an article by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal:
The irony of Ross -- another catcher who, like Avila, has dealt with concussions -- colliding with Avila was not lost on either side.
"I just told him, 'Hey, man, you didn't give me a choice,'" said Ross. "Going hard. He understood, I think. We both actually just talked the other day about our concussions. I know what he's been through, and he knows what I've been through. It's one of those things."
"David really did the only thing he could do," Leyland said. "I have absolutely no problem with that. It's a tough play for a catcher."
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