Alex Avila was held out of the starting lineup this afternoon against the White Sox after he hurt his jaw in a collision with teammate Prince Fielder during yesterday’s game, but the hope was that he wouldn’t have to miss much time after he passed a concussion test. However, Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Chris Iott of MLive.com after today’s game that Avila had a headache during batting practice and won’t return to the lineup until he’s back to 100 percent.
“He wasn’t going to play under any circumstances,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after his team’s 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. “And I can’t tell you about tomorrow. That’s a real touchy one when you start messing with upstairs. I’ll have to feel 100 percent that he’s totally cleared before I play him.”
It’s not clear if Avila will be sent for more tests, but obviously the Tigers aren’t going to take any chances if the headaches continue. Gerald Laird started behind the plate this afternoon and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Bryan Holaday, a September call-up, is the third catcher on the active roster.
Avila, 25, is batting .247/.355/.388 with eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .743 OPS in 107 games played this year. He has thrown out 31 percent (33 out 106) of attempted basestealers.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.