Alex Avila just returned from a hamstring injury late last week, but now he’s hurting again.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Avila is out of tonight’s lineup against the Rangers due to renewed soreness in his left knee. It’s a troubling development, as he missed a couple days in the early part of May due to soreness in the same knee and had problems with both knees down the stretch and into the postseason last year.
Avila acknowledged that he felt pain in the knee during Sunday’s game while Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he “could tell he wasn’t feeling right.” The 25-year-old backstop was sent for an MRI this morning and the Tigers should know more about his status after he is examined by the Rangers’ team doctor tonight.
Avila is 1-for-14 with two walks in four games since returning from the disabled list and is hitting .234/.324/.396 with five home runs, 20 RBI and a .720 OPS over 177 plate appearances this season. He has thrown out 33 percent (15-for-45) of attempted basestealers.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.