Avila available for Game 6; Leyland: 'He will play'
BOSTON — Hard-headed or stubborn or just flat-out tough, Alex Avila will play in Saturday’s Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
“He will play,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I just left him in the trainer’s room, 10 minutes ago. He’s ready to go. He feels pretty good. I don’t think that’ll be any kind of a drawback.”
[Click here to see the full lineups for both teams for Saturday's Game 6.]
Avila’s worn out knees were the limiting factor in the 2011 ALCS. He ended up playing in all six games, bulling his way through the pain.
The Tigers weren’t sure whether or not he’d be able to do the same, after the recurring tendinitis — an injury that dated back to that earlier season — forced him out of Thursday’s Game 5 following a collision at the plate. His knee bent up under him when the Red Sox’s David Ross bowled him over, trying to score from third on a grounder.
Leyland was reticent to announce any lineup before he knew for sure Avila’s availability.
“From a manager’s standpoint, the one thing you don’t want to happen is, when you’re dealing with an injury — and I think Alex is fine now — is to start him in a game, and then have to take him out in the second or third inning,” the manager said. “That’s the one thing you don’t want to have to do as a manager. If he can’t go, that’s fine. But if he can go, you want him to be out there for the entire game, if possible.”
What keeps Avila playing?
“You see how our pitchers are pitching, that’s a lot of motivation right there. The fact that I can be a part of that. Also this team. A lot of players will tell you around the league, that you’re not going to have opportunities like we’ve had in the last three years, as good as we’ve been,” he said after Game 4. “So, coming to the ballpark everyday is something I love doing, especially on the team I’m on. So I want to make sure I take every advantage of that, and be out there. It’s a tough position. I knew that going in. I guess I’m just able to shake it off.”