Avila waiting on clearance to resume activities
Tigers catcher will sport mask with extra padding to guard against foul tips
DETROIT -- The Tigers are in a wait-and-see mode on Alex Avila, who has to go 24 hours without concussion symptoms before the team's medical staff will clear him to resume baseball activities. Whenever Avila does return, they're hoping that an upgrade in headgear will keep him from a recurrence.
"He won't be using a hockey-style mask, but he will be using a heavier mask than he's using now, with a little more padding," manager Jim Leyland said.
Avila checked in at Comerica Park on Thursday for a follow-up exam with doctors. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said through a team spokesperson before the Tigers' 4-1 win over the Royals that there was no update on Avila's status.
"Alex felt better today. He was here and he was pretty clear," Leyland said after Thursday's game. "This is a process that is an official process that you have to go through, so there's a lot of steps to be taken yet. But he was here earlier today and felt pretty good, actually. You get to point A, then you have to go to point B, then you have to go to point C.
"This is different than other injuries. There's a whole process that you have to go through."
Avila tried the hockey-style mask in side sessions a few years ago and didn't feel comfortable with it. He has used a lightweight mask, Leyland said, but this recent issue has made sacrificing weight for protection a worthy swap.
It's a similar issue to what Royals catcher Salvador Perez just went through. He returned from the seven-day concussion DL on Sunday after taking a foul tip off his mask a week earlier. The impact of the mask reportedly jarred him, leaving his jaw sore. Perez, too, has opted against the hockey mask.
Miggy's injuries mounting along with big hits
DETROIT -- Not only has Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera been dealing with a lingering abdominal strain for the past month, but he has also been hobbled by a sore knee and shin since last weekend.
Cabrera injured both his knee and shin on foul balls in his at-bat on Friday against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, before hitting a game-tying two-run homer.
"His shin looked absolutely terrible, but from what I've gathered from the trainers it's the knee that's bothering him a little bit more than the shin," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The stomach issue is getting better but still is a nuisance to him."
Despite multiple injuries, Cabrera had homered in five of his last six games. Entering Thursday, he led the Majors with a .360 batting average and 114 RBIs while trailing Baltimore's Chris Davis by six homers (44 to 38) in his quest of becoming the first player to win back-to-back Triple Crowns.
"He's banged up pretty good and how he's doing what he's doing, I have no idea," Leyland said. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like this."
While Leyland says he uses common sense when dealing with Cabrera's injuries, it's difficult to pull him late in games for a pinch-runner or defensive replacement because he's so valuable in the lineup.
"The other day we had a situation in Chicago where I didn't do it because if we had a rally going, he would have come up again," Leyland said. "Yesterday it worked out OK, because he hit in the ninth and I just put [Ramon] Santiago in [at third base] but it's a tough call."
Tigers tab Alvarez to start twin-bill nightcap
DETROIT -- The Tigers announced Jose Alvarez will start the second game of Friday's day-night doubleheader against the Royals.
Alvarez has made four starts with the Tigers this season, making most of them in June when Anibal Sanchez was on the 15-day disabled list. Alvarez is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA to go with 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 19 2/3 innings.
Since his last stint in the Majors, Alvarez went 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Toledo. He will be pitching on normal rest after making his last start on Sunday.
The Tigers won't need to make a roster move to accommodate Alvarez because of the 26th-man exemption for the doubleheader.
Leyland, Hunter support new replay proposal
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been arguing for a couple years that hits besides home runs should be able to be reviewed. Joe Mauer's line drive down the line at Yankee Stadium in the 2009 American League Division Series, he argued, was more important than a throwaway home run in a runaway game.
With Thursday's news that Major League Baseball is moving toward expanded replay, including challenges available for managers to use, Leyland seems to have people agreeing with him. He didn't know all the details as of Friday afternoon, but he sounded encouraged.
"I think it's 2013. I think the fans and everybody else, they want to see it right," Leyland said. "It doesn't bother me one way or another. ... I'd have to look at it to see exactly how it's detailed. I'll probably talk to Tony [La Russa] about it."
La Russa was reportedly one of the close advisers on the plan. He's also a close friend of Leyland.
Hunter is curious how it'll work. He's wondering if it'll resemble something like the NFL, where coaches throw red challenge flags onto the field.
"I wonder if he can throw a red baseball out there to challenge," Hunter said. "Think that'll work? Get a red baseball that you can throw right in between the pitcher and the catcher."
That said, he supports the idea of reviewing more crucial plays, especially in the postseason. He wasn't on that Twins team that got hurt by the Mauer missed call, but he said there was no way for them to overcome that.
In the regular season, he said, it's easier.
"We have more games to make up for it, because you play every day," Hunter said. "Just like us as hitters, if we strike out three times, we have tomorrow to make up for it. And if they make a bad call, we have tomorrow to make up for it. But you don't have tomorrow in the postseason. You make a bad call, you lose, you go home. It's very pivotal that they have that in the postseason."
Horton will attend Beacon Awards luncheon
DETROIT -- Former Tigers All-Star Willie Horton will be among the special guests at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon on Aug. 24 in Chicago that precedes the Civil Rights Game between the White Sox and Rangers later that night.
The two annual events celebrate individuals whose lives have been emblematic of the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Horton will introduce music legend and Detroit native Aretha Franklin, who is one of the recipients of this year's MLB Beacon Awards.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will make his annual address during the event, while Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Ferguson Jenkins will be in attendance along with former All-Stars Frank Thomas and Minnie Miñoso.
Proceeds from the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon will benefit the Chicago Urban League and La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago. Information on the Civil Rights Game and the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon can be found at MLB.com/civilrightsgame.
• Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos was back in Triple-A Toledo's lineup for the first time on Thursday after being hit on the right forearm by a pitch on Saturday. Castellanos is batting .278 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs with the Mud Hens.
• Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Austin Jackson an off-day on Thursday due to the five-game series with the Royals following the team's 10-game road trip. Leyland said he plans to give Torii Hunter the day off on Saturday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.