DL might be best option for Avila, Tigers

DL might be best option for Avila, Tigers

Published Jun. 6, 2012 12:12 a.m. ET

DETROIT — Alex Avila needs to go on the disabled

Avila having to leave Tuesday night's game after the fifth inning when his
right hamstring tightened up again was not the reason the Tigers lost 4-2 to
the Cleveland Indians in front of 33,258 at Comerica Park.

What Avila's been going through is what a lot of the Tigers have been going
through this season.

Before the game, Avila talked about how bad he felt this weekend watching Omir
Santos have to try to catch pitchers that he's not used to — with the exception
of rookie Casey Crosby — and watching someone like Justin Verlander struggle.
You could see Avila felt like he might have made a difference, either behind
the plate or at it.

When Avila threw out Shin-Soo Choo at second base to end the fifth inning,
Tigers fans caught a glimpse of some of what Avila brings to the table when
he's healthy. He helps the pitchers control the running game.

Avila said he was going for an MRI after he left the clubhouse.

"It is frustrating," Avila said. "It is part of the game,
though. Can’t really feel sorry for yourself. It (the hamstring) was feeling a
lot better than it was in the last series. I was hoping, the work I was doing,
and the way I was feeling, that I was going to be able to play … maybe not at
100 percent, but enough to be fine. Just wasn’t the case. And we’ve just gotta
figure it out."

Manager Jim Leyland briefly addressed his team before the media entered his

"I just told them I appreciate the guys that have tried to play through
injuries, which they have,” Leyland said. “These guys are trying to play hurt,
and like I told them, the way it works to me, the good Lord and injuries, it
just takes time."

As much as Avila wants to play and as high as his tolerance for pain clearly
is, the catcher at 50 percent or whatever he might be at this point is just not

Just as when center fielder Austin Jackson was trying to get treatment for his
abdominal strain and outfielder Andy Dirks was trying to get treatment first
for his hamstring and now for his Achilles wasn't helping.

Those two eventually went on the DL. Starting pitcher Doug Fister went on the
DL immediately after straining his left side in his first start of the season
against Boston. He seemed to be fine when he came off the DL but he wasn't
right and ended up back on the DL. When Fister's completely healthy, he does
not fall behind batters. He just doesn't.

"Time heals injuries, for the most part," Leyland said. "And
we've been trying to fool with this thing and you know what, it's really driving
the trainer crazy; it's driving the players crazy because they think it's going
to be four days. ... Well then it turns into five, it turns into six. Then you
start having hindsight, well, maybe we should have DL'd him."

My guess is from now on, Leyland will be more likely to err on the side of
putting players on the DL rather than trying to fudge his way through with a
short bench.

Just-called-up Matt Young didn't help much Tuesday, striking out four times in
his Tigers' debut. But Leyland admitted the Tigers are in a fight, they're in
the corner, wobbly, and they need some healthy fighters to take up the cause.

"Everybody misses players, everybody has injuries," the skipper said.
"I don't want any excuses here. Because when you're not going good, and
things like this happen, whether people believe it or not, subconsciously
that's a little outlet for you.

“I've managed a long time. I know how that works. Instead of
the attitude, 'I'm going to do something to pick this team up,' you take the
attitude, 'We don't have this guy.'

"What we got is still pretty good. We've got to fight our fannies off. That's
just the way it is. You've got to slug it out. I'm not going to let them get
knocked out. They gotta come out fighting."

It's time for the Tigers to quit fighting their injuries and let them heal.