Avila returns to lineup, spends time with new baby

Alex Avila is happy to return to the lineup after missing five days of games with low back tightness.

Reinhold Matay

JUPITER, Fla. — Not every Tigers player looks forward to the three-hour drive to Jupiter.

But Alex Avila was happy to make the trip for a couple of reasons — to play again and to see his family, especially baby Zoey, born March 4.

"It’s the first time I’ve seen the baby since she was born the last couple weeks so it was nice," Avila said in the visitors clubhouse Monday morning. "She’s already gotten bigger."

Avila said he couldn’t live without FaceTime.

"I don’t know how my parents did it without it," Avila said. "I remember my dad traveling all the time and he’d be gone weeks and we wouldn’t see him. We’d talk on the phone but with FaceTime it’s much easier."

Avila said Avery, his nearly two-year old daughter, has adjusted well to the newborn.

"She’ll help out with her," Avila said. "She’s been phenomenal."

Avila was also happy to return to the lineup after missing five days of games with low back tightness.

Avila came out after one inning when the Tigers played the Washington Nationals in Viera last Wednesday.

"It’s probably a combination of a whole bunch of things," Avila said. "I can’t really pinpoint one thing that threw my back."

Avila said he normally gets back spasms one or two times a year and has to rest and get treatment until it calms down again.

It’s a problem Avila has had since he played at Alabama.

Although he has missed time twice with back problems this spring, he’s not overly concerned.

"Spring training, you’re getting ready for the season so when nagging injuries come up, you make sure you take care of them because you don’t want them to linger," Avila said.

It’s taken away some time that Avila could have used to get to know Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene, although he has caught them this spring.

"After catching them a few times, you know what their stuff does," Avila said. "Catching them over time, maybe a month or so to get really a good feel as far as how they like to pitch, what they like to throw in certain situations but that all comes with time."

Avila knows that Simon likes to throw a slow split, which is similar to Anibal Sanchez’s eephus pitch.

"With Sanchez, what I’ve done in the past and what I’ll do with Simon is I’ll just call his change up and he’ll throw whatever speed he wants to," Avila said. "I wouldn’t say it’s easy but I’m always anticipating the hard one so if it goes a little slower I have more time to react."

Avila has also been working on hitting the opposite way this spring in an attempt to beat the shift.

He had early success with it but does not have a lot of at-bats yet.

"There’s three weeks left in the spring so I’m not really worried about that," Avila said.

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