Avila ends rehab stint with Toledo, returns to TigersWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo catcher Alex Avila returned to the Tigers on June 21 after finishing up his three-game rehab stint for the Mud Hens this week.
Avila, who was scratched before Detroit’s June 2 game with an aggravated right hamstring, first attempted to return from the injury too quickly and had to leave a June 5 matchup against the Indians. He was then placed on the DL before finally returning to action with the Mud Hens on June 18.
“I feel 100 percent, I am ready to go,” Avila said. “I knew that coming here I was fine and was 100 percent, it was just about getting back in the rhythm of the game.”
It didn’t take long for Avila to get back into the swing of things. The 25-year-old catcher went 3 for 7 from the plate in Toledo with one RBI in three games for the Mud Hens. He caught in two contests and served as the designated hitter once.
“Alex looked fine. This was just a matter of getting more at bats and timing,” Toledo head coach Phil Nevin said. “He came to me after the second at bat [in his final game] and said his timing was good and he saw the ball well. Then he went up there and had a nice at bat, got us a run and tied the game, giving us a chance.”
“All I was trying to do was just play and get back in the rhythm of the game,” Avila said. “That’s all I was trying to do. You get a feel for it once you play in a couple games. The first game was a little like spring training and then after that you just go back and it’s like riding a bike.”
Avila, last year’s American League All-Star starter behind the plate, has started the season a bit slower than 2011. The Hialeah, Fla., native is hitting .250 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 144 at bats this year. With the recent success of the Tigers, who have won six of their last eight contests, Avila is ready to rejoin the roster that has pulled to within 2.5 games of first place of the AL Central lead.
“They have been playing well,” Avila said. “I have been watching them play and I want to go up there and contribute.”
The timing of Avila’s return couldn’t have been better. Backup catcher Gerald Laird injured his left hamstring rounding second base on June 20 just as Avila was finishing up his last game in Toledo. Laird will avoid the DL, but his injury means Avila is the lone catcher on the Detroit roster after sending Bryan Holaday back to the Mud Hens.
Avila looked as healthy in his first game back for the Tigers as he did in Toledo. He went 1 for 4 at the plate as Detroit grabbed a 2-1 victory in 10 innings over St. Louis. The Tigers will now travel on a 10-game road trip beginning with a three-game series in Pittsburgh beginning June 22.