Without the designated hitter spot at his disposal Tigers manager Jim Leyland is getting creative for interleague play tonight by starting catcher Alex Avila at third base, where he hasn’t played a single inning since college.
Detroit’s regular third baseman, Brandon Inge, is on the disabled list, and playing Avila out of position allows Victor Martinez to get into the lineup at catcher.
Despite seeing zero action at third base in the majors or minors Avila seems pretty comfortable with the move, telling Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News: “It won’t be anything new for me. Just go out there and see what happens.”
It probably won’t be pretty–and I’m curious why Leyland wouldn’t just play Miguel Cabrera at third base, where he has plenty of experience–but Avila has been a damn good catcher this year, throwing out 40 percent of steal attempts, and it’s easy to see why Leyland would be willing to sacrifice defense to keep his bat in the lineup with a .304 average and .916 OPS through 58 games.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.