Alex Avila began a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Toledo after being sidelined due to a concussion, but his return to the Tigers is temporarily on hold.
According to Chris Iseman of MLB.com, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that Avila had to make an early exit from his first rehab game due to a headache. The 26-year-old went 0-for-2 with a walk and caught three innings before exiting. He didn’t have any symptoms yesterday, but was held out of action as a precaution. The hope is that he could be able to serve as the DH today.
“You just take it slow for a day and then see how it plays out, and we’ll get him back into action,” Leyland said.
Avila is batting just .198/.288/.340 with nine home runs and 36 RBI over 73 games this season, though he was showing some signs of a turnaround prior to his concussion. While Brayan Pena and Bryan Holaday have done most of the catching during his absence, Victor Martinez made his first start behind the plate in two years last night.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.