Avila fine after taking foul ball off his mask

Avila fine after taking foul ball off his mask

Avila fine after taking foul ball off his mask
BOSTON -- The Tigers, who had battled a rash of injuries over the last two weeks, had another from an unexpected player. But as it turned out, the worst wound to Alex Avila from a third-inning foul ball off his catching mask on Thursday night was a cut across his nose.

An initial exam of Avila after the Tigers pulled him showed no symptoms of a concussion. Manager Jim Leyland said he'll probably sit against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia on Friday, something he probably would've done anyway, before getting back behind the plate Saturday.

"The way the mask hit my helmet and cut me open, it made it look a little bit worse," Avila said after the Tigers' 7-3 win over the Red Sox.

As foul tips go, Avila said it wasn't any worse than what he usually gets. He endures a lot of them off his body, earning him a reputation as one of the toughest catchers in the Majors. That toughness allowed him to catch 133 games last year, making him a fixture down the stretch after his backup, Victor Martinez, suffered a knee injury.

That said, Avila was clearly rattled when Ryan Sweeney fouled off a 96-mph fastball from Max Scherzer into the top of Avila's mask, which slid off across his face and dragged his helmet down to his nose.

"I wouldn't say it was harder than any of the other ones I ever had," Avila said, "but it got me in a good spot."

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand immediately attended to Avila as Leyland joined him out from the dugout. Blood could be seen streaming down from Avila's nose as Rand attended to him.

"When I first went out," Leyland said, "I was concerned this was not good, because he was seeing stars."

Avila said he wasn't seeing stars, just the field in front of him. But he admitted he was rattled.

"A shot to the face, you're going to be dazed no matter what," Avila said. "I got up and I felt fine. I told them I could stay in the game."

Given the concern in recent years over concussions in all sports, that wasn't going to happen. Rand suggested to Leyland that Avila should be checked out just in case. Leyland, a catcher during his playing days in the 1960s, was in total agreement.

"I'd never forgive myself if he sat back down there, keeled over and passed out," Leyland said.

Avila walked off the field on his own power, with Rand and Leyland joining him. Avila's backup, Gerald Laird, replaced him behind the plate.

Avila returned to the dugout after the exam and watched the rest of the game from the bench. At one point, pitching coach Jeff Jones walked over to him, waved his hand and asked how many fingers he was holding up.

"I said five," Avila said. "He said, 'Nope. Four and a thumb."

Coincidentally, the Tigers called up a third catcher, Omir Santos, on Wednesday. He was brought up to allow Leyland to use one of his other backstops at designated hitter without worrying about what to do if his other catcher was injured.