DETROIT -- The last World Series that Tigers catcher Alex Avila experienced was one of the most grueling times of his baseball career. It wasn't the games. It was the practices.
Avila was a fan during the Tigers' World Series run in 2006, rooting for his father's team. Avila was a student at the University of Alabama, where he was working out for the baseball team.
"I was going through fall practices, which were pretty unbearable physically," Avila said.
He headed home to attend the first two games of that series in Detroit. Once the Tigers hit the road for St. Louis in that series, though, Avila was back in school, and back in practice.
He was still paying attention. To him, though, it's much easier to play than to watch.
"I knew what he was going through," Avila said of his father, Tigers vice president/assistant general manager Al Avila. "We went through it when he was with the Marlins, even though I was much younger then.
"You're hopefully a lot more emotionally involved when you're watching the games, rather than playing. That's probably the biggest difference. When you're playing, it just seems like a baseball game. Obviously the intensity's there, but it's more just going with your gut and you're just playing. You're just allowing your ability to take over. When you're watching, there's so many more things racing through your mind."
Bream rejoins Tigers as director of pro scouting
DETROIT -- Scott Bream was one of the last holdovers in Tigers baseball operations from Randy Smith's tenure as general manager, before the Padres hired him away with a better opportunity as a special assistant. Two years later, Detroit created a position to bring him back.
The Tigers haven't had a director of pro scouting under team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who placed those duties in the hands of longtime assistant Scott Reid as vice president of player personnel. They now have one in Bream, who will take on some of Reid's duties.
"He's a very good evaluator of talent, a very good baseball person," Dombrowski said, "a guy that we didn't want to lose at the time, but he also got a nice promotion at that point. For us, we're very happy to have him back.
"We had a very different role available now, because I think as Scott Reid progresses, he's going to give up some of his responsibilities and help him with the coordination there. But we also have a guy who's a good evaluator who can help us with trying to find players."
Bream fills the opening in the scouting department left by Eddie Bane, who joined the Red Sox at the end of the regular season as a special assistant for player personnel.
"We lost Eddie Bane, so we were really looking for someone who could step in and help us a great deal," Dombrowski said. "So Scott Bream's ready to step up and take some additional responsibilities."
Scherzer, Anibal, Coke pitch in second scrimmage
DETROIT -- The second and last of the Tigers' scrimmages against their fall instructional league team wrapped up without many significant events. Max Scherzer, slated to start Game 4 of the World Series at Comerica Park on Sunday night, pitched two innings against Tigers hitters. Game 3 scheduled starter Anibal Sanchez tossed in an inning.
With Monday a work day, the game didn't have nearly as many onlookers from beyond the outfield fence as Sunday's game. The stands, meanwhile, were virtually empty save for team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, vice president/assistant GM Al Avila, manager Jim Leyland and -- at least for an inning or two -- Game 1 starter Justin Verlander.
Phil Coke, who finished out the last three games of the American League Championship Series to sweep the Yankees, also got in an inning, as well as some comic relief. Even in a simulated game, he did his mad dash in from the bullpen. Then, after getting three quick outs, he asked for the ball back so he could get some more pitches for another out.
After another groundout, Coke tried it again, only to be turned down in his request for a five-out inning.
Instructional leaguers thrilled to take on Tigers
DETROIT -- They sat in the clubhouse in Lakeland, Fla., intently watching Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, hoping to find out Thursday night what their destination would be.
When Prince Fielder caught the last out, finishing off an 8-1 win and four-game sweep over the Yankees, the Tigers were heading to the World Series. And a group of 15-plus celebrating instructional league players were heading to Detroit.
"We were pulling hard for the Tigers because, of course, this is about them, but I mean, what an opportunity," said Nick Carmichael, a 22-year-old who spent the season in the rookie Gulf Coast League after being drafted in the 24th round of this year's First-Year Player Draft.
From Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., Carmichael was one of the few selected to scrimmage the Tigers on Sunday and Monday, to ensure the big league team would stay fresh for the World Series.
"There's nothing better," he said. "Some of us -- hopefully we'll all get to come back here some day -- but for some of us, this is the closest we'll ever get. Great opportunity. I can't even describe the excitement."
None of them could.
It was a moment unlike any other for the young prospects. On one hand, it was business and it had to be taken seriously because Detroit needed to prepare. On the other, the group of guys, mostly in their early 20s, were playing alongside a World Series team stacked with players they've grown up watching.
"It's something we all want to be a part of, we all want to be out there, we all want to be in the game," Carmichael said. "So there is that aspect of it where you want to get in and go out and try to perform well. In a way, we're trying to show what we got, but at the same time it's not about us. It's about going out and helping them stay ready for the Series."
"It's another part of the experience that I'll be able to tell my kids, grandkids about," said Jason King, a fourth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Kansas State University.
King got an at-bat Sunday against Drew VerHagen, but he was hoping to get one against someone on the Tigers' roster on Monday. That was the type of feeling shared throughout the "visiting" clubhouse.
All are competitors, but all were excited about being there, and their families and friends were excited for them, too. They wanted to help, but they wouldn't mind a few stories to brag about.
"I may never be here again. I hope I am, but if I never am, I might be able to tell my kids one day that, 'Shoot, I gave up a home run to Miguel Cabrera, the Triple Crown winner," Carmichael said.
-- Anthony Odoardi
Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones said he was encouraged by Jose Valverde's session against hitters in Sunday's scrimmage. Valverde, who has thrown fewer and fewer splitters as part of his arsenal since 2010, threw some good ones, Jones said, while implementing the mechanical tweaks they wanted.
"I think he's more confident," Jones said.
With no umpires for the scrimmages Sunday and Monday, players were left to call safe or out, and ball/strike calls were up to the catcher. Asked if anyone complained, Alex Avila said, "No, my strike zone's spot-on."