By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have placed veteran catcher Alex Avila on the 15-day disabled list with a loose body in his left knee, the team announced Saturday morning. The move is retroactive to May 7.
Avila’s knee had been bothering him for several weeks, so on Friday he underwent an MRI. The “loose body” is likely a piece of bone, Avila said in the clubhouse Saturday, and the probable course of action is arthroscopic surgery.
For now, the Tigers do not have a timetable on Avila’s return, as they are sending the MRI to a knee specialist to get a second opinion.
With Avila out, James McCann will get the bulk of the starts, and Bryan Holaday is coming up from Triple-A Toledo to serve as the backup. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus expects a seamless transition, but the loss of Avila is still a substantial one.
“It stings a lot, I would say,” Ausmus said. “He’s really the starting catcher, he’s a left-handed bat in a right-handed lineup, and he’s got a ton of experience behind the plate.”
Avila hopes to be back for the second half of the season, and while he hates to be out of action, he looks forward to being able to play healthy. While he had not spoken with Ausmus about the knee, it had been bothering him for quite some time.
“It affects me getting out of a chair,” Avila said with a wry smile. “It’s been pretty painful for a while, for the past few weeks. Some days it’s been a little difficult just to walk around, stuff like that, so I knew there was probably something a little more serious, and basically I’ve been playing with it, some days not sure how, but according to the doctor it wouldn’t be smart to continue, that it could probably do some more damage, so got to take care of it.
“My expectation and my hope would be to be back and ready to go, good as new, for the second half,” Avila added. “That would be my hope, and I think that’s a pretty realistic possibility.”
Avila said he does not know when the injury occurred. While the knee is the same one that was affected by patellar tendonitis a few years ago, Avila said the issues are unrelated.
Avila was a late scratch from Friday’s lineup because of a different health issue.
“He was a scratch because of that foul tip he took off his forearm,” Ausmus said Friday night. “He was able to hit, but he wasn’t able to throw. That was the initial reason we scratched him. He was actually in the lineup and then taken out. After he hit in batting practice he threw, and he wasn’t comfortable throwing.”
Ausmus said Saturday he did not see the knee issue coming because Avila never mentioned it to him.
“He had the forearm thing yesterday, so we scratched him, and I assumed – I hadn’t heard anything about the knee, and then [trainer] Kevin Rand told me that his knee had kind of been bothering him from time to time and it had progressively gotten a little worse, so they were just going to run him through to get an MRI,” Ausmus said, “but I didn’t know anything about the knee until that conversation with Kevin, and then during the game he told me what the MRI results were.”