"Alex will each day come in and do some type of activity," skipper Brad Ausmus said before Friday's series opener against the Royals. "And until he can go through that activity without any side effects, we probably won't be able to play him."
The way things are going, the Tigers are now preparing for the possibility that Avila might not be able to return this season. It was with that mind that Ausmus gave September callup James McCann his second Major League start on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.
Ausmus has hesitated to use McCann in big situations of a division race, including pinch-hitting opportunities against a left-hander. That was before the extent of Avila's concussion symptoms became clear.
"The truth is, we don't know when Alex is coming back," Ausmus said, "so we better be prepared for the fact that if he doesn't come back, we're going to need two catchers."
Avila believes the concussion happened when he was picked off first base on Sunday against Cleveland. First baseman Carlos Santana's arm hit Avila's head while Santana swiped to apply the tag. He does not know whether the foul tip off his mask on Sept. 2 in Cleveland, which also forced him to miss a few days, had a cumulative effect, something he has been told by doctors is a possibility in cases of repeated blows.
While Avila was trying to stay upbeat in those minutes, he was also honest about his situation. He's further along now than he was at the same point dealing with past concussions.
"This concussion wasn't any worse than last year's," Avila said.
That said, Avila is now dealing with concussions for three straight seasons. Last year, it was a foul tip. The year before, it was a collision with Prince Fielder while chasing a popup.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.