DETROIT -- While manager Jim Leyland weighs how to handle third base with Brandon Inge out, his catching situation remains a platoon. He's going to mix and match Gerald Laird with Alex Avila and wait to see if one of them heats up enough at the plate to warrant more playing time.
He said as much to each of them in private meetings recently, and he said the same to reporters Tuesday night.
"The other day I talked to both of them," Leyland said. "I said, 'I feel like I've pretty much given both of you a chance to take the job -- not give you the job, but for one of you to take the job. And up to this point, neither one of you have. And that's the way I'm going to continue to work.'
"The job is wide open. Whoever plays the best is going to play the most. And you can't put it any fairer than that. That's just the way it stands. If it keeps going like this, I'm going to keep tinkering with it and alternating until hopefully somebody gets really hot."
That really hasn't happened all season, but Laird and Avila had been particularly cold since the All-Star break. Laird picked up a huge hit Wednesday, though, when he took Colby Lewis deep for a two-run homer in the second inning. That broke Laird out of an 0-for-8 slump; Avila entered the game mired in an 0-for-6 skid.
"It's important for us," Leyland said of Laird's homer. "It's important for Gerald. I think that was a big thing for him. Hopefully that will get him going. It was a big contribution. He also caught a great game. He's playing [Thursday] against the lefty. But that was huge for us. It helped us win a ballgame."
Tigers catchers combined for a .201 average, six home runs and 27 RBIs entering Monday. Their .564 OPS ranked dead last in the Majors for catching combinations. Correspondingly, neither Avila nor Laird has started more than four consecutive games at any point this season. Avila started the first two games out of the All-Star break before Laird start the weekend games. Avila started the first two games against Texas, then Laird got the start Wednesday night.
Leyland unfazed by Boesch's struggles
DETROIT -- Since the All-Star break, the Tigers' offense has sputtered. No one is feeling the struggles more than rookie slugger Brennan Boesch.
Prior to the break, the rookie owned a .342 average with 49 RBIs and 12 home runs in his 65 games since a mid-April callup from Triple-A Toledo. Boesch has gone 3-for-29 (.103 average) from the plate in seven games since the All-Star break with one RBI and no home runs.
Although the Tigers snapped their losing streak Wednesday night, Boesch wasn't an offensive factor. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two flyouts that came on the first pitch. His third flyout of the game came on the second pitch. His struggles were enough for Tigers manager Jim Leyland to announce that the rookie will get a day off Thursday, his first time out of the starting lineup since May 30.
"Yeah I am," Leyland said, when asked by a reporter if he was concerned about Boesch's slump, "but not as much as everybody else is. I tried to warn everybody. You don't hit .380 and .400 off left-handers all year coming up here. I'm going to give him a rest tomorrow and get him out of here for a day against a tough lefty, and give him a little blow."
Leyland called Boesch "lightning in a bottle" during the first half, and said Boesch has been a difference-maker, giving the Tigers a chance to contend for the American League Central.
"The hottest story in town was Boesch," Leyland said. "So every TV station and every writer is going to go to Boesch. But I know that's all going to blow over. As a manager, I can't react to all of the great stuff and some of the bad stuff. I can't do that. I have to stay steady. My job is to continue to tell Brennan Boesch what it is to be a big leaguer, like missing the cutoff man. My job is to remind him. It's not to get on him or brow beat him or any of that stuff. It's not after three weeks to tell him he's going to the Hall of Fame. My job is to stay steady."
When Boesch was red-hot during the first half, Leyland didn't want anyone talking to Boesch about his hitting style or giving him tips on how to improve from the plate. The skipper loves Boesch's "see the ball, hit the ball" mentality. Despite the slump, Leyland doesn't want Boesch to become too selective from the plate, even though opposing teams are pitching him differently and taking him more seriously.
"They are throwing him off with changeups and they are messing with him up here and in," Leyland said. "This is the big leagues. He is good. I think he's got a chance to be one heck of a player. But he's not going to keep up. If he kept up the pace, he'd have had 120 RBIs at the end of the year out of the clear blue. The guy didn't even make the team [out of Spring Training]. It ain't going to happen.
"It's a growing process. He's going to be great, I think. I believe that. He's really going to be good. But he's going to have to go through those periods. It's a growing process."
Seay considers rotator cuff surgery
DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Bobby Seay continues to gather opinions on his torn rotator cuff as he ponders a possible reconstructive surgery that could keep him out for at least a year.
Seay visited with noted orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Monday in California. He also was examined earlier this month by Dr. Craig Morgan.
Seay stopped his throwing program last month after pain in his shoulder returned while playing catch from a distance. He had been trying to rehab his injured shoulder without surgery, with hopes of pitching at some point this year. That timetable has now been all but eliminated as Seay weighs whether and how to move forward with surgery.
As doctors told Seay upon diagnosing his injury last month, though, there's no guarantee that surgery would allow him to come back and pitch at the same level he did when he was healthy. It's one of the less certain procedures a pitcher can undergo, which is why so many try to exhaust their rehab options first and only choose surgery as a last resort.
A 12-month timetable for recovery would take Seay to around the midway point of next season. He's eligible for free agency this winter.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.