DETROIT -- It was Willie Horton Day throughout the state of Michigan on Friday, honoring the Detroit native and former Tigers great for his contributions on the field and in the community. Unfortunately, Horton wasn't able to partake in any of the festivities on his 71st birthday.
Horton was sick and missed his 10th annual celebration at his former high school, Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern. His birthday was declared Willie Horton Day in the state in 2004 on a bill signed by then-governor Jennifer Granholm. Members of the Willie Horton Foundation were at the high school on Friday afternoon to present a college scholarship to a selected student.
"Willie and I grew up in the projects," said Walter Terrell, one of Horton's high school teammates. "We've been knowing each other since 1955. He went on to the pros, and God gave him some exceptional abilities. But one thing he's always had was respect for Northwestern."
As a senior in high school, Horton helped lift his high school baseball team to a city title. Afterward, he signed with the Tigers, which led to an 18-year Major League career that included 14 seasons with his hometown team. In addition to helping Detroit to its 1968 World Series championship, Horton was a four-time All-Star and finished with 1,993 hits, 325 home runs and 1,163 RBIs.
Horton, who is now a special assistant in the Tigers' front office, had his No. 23 retired by the team in 2000. He also has a statue in the center-field stands.
"Detroit was a great place in 1968," said Gary Pollard, who serves on the Board of Governors at nearby Wayne State University. "Motown was putting out hit after hit, but the biggest superstar in town was Willie Horton. ... Willie Horton made you proud to be from Detroit."
Ailing Avila's status for Game 6 up in the air
BOSTON -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland returned to town Friday afternoon still not sure whether he will have catcher Alex Avila available to play Saturday in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series vs. the Red Sox (8 p.m. ET on FOX). He also wasn't sure who might catch if Avila can't go.
He has not ruled out Victor Martinez.
"That has been thought about, yes," Leyland said on a Friday conference call with reporters.
It's a possibility the Tigers have kept open all along for the postseason -- but for the World Series, not the ALCS. If the Tigers advance, they'll lose the designated hitter for Games 3-5 in the NL city, either St. Louis or Los Angeles. Martinez, 7-for-18 in this series and 16-for-38 in the postseason, would have to find a position in the field in those games. He caught three times down the stretch in the regular season without any problems to be prepared.
This is different. Martinez, whose days as even a semi-regular catcher ended with knee surgery last year, could bat in the designated-hitter spot in Boston. However, Avila's absence could leave Leyland deciding whether it's best to catch Brayan Pena and leave everyone else alone, or catch Martinez, move Miguel Cabrera to DH and play one of his utility infielders at third.
Leyland isn't ready to take the discussion that far.
"It would be an option, let me put it that way, that you could DH Miggy and catch Victor and then, obviously, play [Ramon] Santiago or Donnie Kelly at third," Leyland said. "I don't think that's going to happen, but it would be an option if Alex were not able to play."
As for Avila, Leyland said the catcher was still dealing with some soreness in his left knee when the Tigers boarded their team plane for Boston on Friday. They won't make an evaluation until Saturday.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Leyland said. "I have no idea. I'm hoping Alex Avila can catch. That decision will be way down the road yet."
Leyland said Friday that the left knee, where Avila strained a left patellar tendon, is the only concern. The second-inning plate collision with David Ross eventually knocked Avila out of the game, but the foul tip he took -- also from Ross -- off his catching mask a couple of innings later might have shaken him up more.
It was reminiscent of the foul tip that gave Avila a concussion in August at Cleveland. The one major difference is that while the August foul hit him on the side of his head, jarring his lightweight mask, Thursday's foul ball hit him square in the front of the mask, right on the chin.
"That was a good one," Avila said. "I guess I can say that's one win for the heavier mask, because I feel fine."
Leyland said he didn't realize how hard that foul tip was until he talked on the phone with his good friend, former Major League manager and catcher Don Zimmer, who watched it on television.
"It was a good one, there's no question about it," Leyland said. "He got smoked pretty good, and because of the previous issues that he'd had, I was also a little concerned about that. But the trainers checked him out. There did not appear to be any issues, but it does ring your bell a little bit, obviously. The main reason he was taken out of the game, obviously, was because of his knee, [which was] very, very sore, throbbing constantly. The foul ball actually had nothing to do with it."
Leyland: Cabrera's injury a factor in play at plate
BOSTON -- Should Miguel Cabrera have stopped, or was he right to keep going?
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was still answering that question a day after the mix-up between Cabrera and third-base coach Tom Brookens led to an easy third out at home plate and a first-inning rally ended without a run.
Leyland's point Friday was what many surmised Thursday night: A healthy Cabrera probably would have stopped when Brookens changed signs. Cabrera's groin injury removed the possibility.
It's not just about how fast Cabrera can run at this point, but also how quickly he can stop.
"I don't really blame Brookens," Leyland said. "If Miguel Cabrera were 100 percent, Tom Brookens stopped him in plenty of time. But where I think he possibly made the mistake was, he probably knew right off the bat when the ball was hit, because of Miggy's condition, he could not score. So I was saying maybe he shouldn't have been waving as long as he was.
"If he was normal, then he stopped him in plenty of time, there's no question about that. I heard some people commenting on that on the television. But under the circumstances, he probably shouldn't have waved as long."
Brookens agreed with that argument after the Tigers' 4-3 loss in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series -- that a healthy Cabrera likely would've been able to stop.
Instead, Leyland said, "We pretty much know right now with Miggy's condition that it's one base at a time."
Iglesias to start Game 6 after spectacular catch
BOSTON -- Jose Iglesias has been a Tiger for just under half a season. He now has two play-of-the-year-worthy defensive highlights to his credit.
When Iglesias ran from the right-field side of second base to chase down David Ortiz's popup in shallow left with a lunging grab on Thursday, it raised the question of whether he topped the changing, barehanded grab and tumbling throw he made in one motion against the White Sox on Aug. 12.
So the question was raised to Iglesias.
"Wow. Oh, man," he said, pausing to think. "Both. This one was tough because I was so far away and the wind's blowing that way and I kind of turned and threw my glove.
"I'd tell you both. Both are really hard."
Manager Jim Leyland has not yet set his starting lineup for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday (8 p.m. ET on FOX), but he confirmed Friday that Iglesias will start at shortstop behind high-strikeout ace Max Scherzer. Iglesias did not start behind Scherzer in Game 2.
Tigers set mark for singles without extra-base hit
BOSTON -- Not since Ty Cobb's first full year in the big leagues had the Tigers had so many singles and no extra bases in a postseason game.
While Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series showed the Tigers hitting again, they hit nothing but singles -- 10 of them, setting a new team postseason record for singles in a game without an extra-base hit.
The previous Tigers mark was nine, in Game 1 of the 1907 World Series. That contest ended after 12 innings in a 3-3 tie. Davy Jones and Sam Crawford had three each, Boss Schmidt had two and Germany Schaefer had one. Cobb, then a fresh-faced 20-year-old center fielder, went 0-for-5.
The Tigers still fell well shy of the Major League record for hits in a postseason game without an extra-base hit. The 1917 White Sox churned out 14 singles in Game 2 of the World Series, a mark matched by the Orioles in Game 2 of the 1971 Fall Classic.
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.