BOSTON – Tigers manager Jim Leyland is not sure yet if catcher Alex Avila will be in his lineup for Game 6 of the ALCS on Saturday at Fenway Park. Avila left Game 5 on Thursday with a left knee patellar tendon strain. That was after a bone-crunching collision with Red Sox catcher David Ross in the second inning.
“We just have to wait and see how he is tomorrow,” Leyland said Friday afternoon. “He was on the plane today, we got on the plane about the exact same time, walked up together. And he's a little sore, but we'll have to just wait and see tomorrow how it is.”
Leyland has not yet set his lineup, waiting for a decision on Avila first.
“It will be a big factor, whether he plays or not, it will obviously affect us some,” Leyland said. “I don't think there will be anything tricky. It will pretty much be using what we've used the last couple of days, depending on Alex's health. I don't look for any major changes or anything, any major surprises.”
Two decisions Leyland has made, however: Jose Iglesias will be at shortstop and Austin Jackson will stay in the eighth spot in the lineup.
* Asked how important it is to get Prince Fielder – who is hitting just .211, going 4-for-19 in the ALCS – jumpstarted offensively, Leyland replied:
“Well, he's had some good at bats. He's had some quick at bats, as well, where he puts the ball in play and hasn't quite centered it where he wants to. He's just trying to hit the ball hard. When he [hits] it hard and in the air obviously you do some damage with it. But he just hasn't been able to do that a lot yet, although he's hit some balls pretty good.
* Leyland said it remains an outside possibility that Victor Martinez could be behind the plate. Martinez a four-time All-Star catcher, including in 2010 with the Sox, caught in just three games this season. With Avila and Miguel Cabrera hurting, could Martinez catch with Cabrera serving as the DH?
“That's a great question. Really a very, very good question,” Leyland said . “That has been thought about, yes. But I don't want to, particularly this time of year with the significance of everything and then so much media, once you mention something like that, it's all over the wires that Martinez might catch. That's not true. I hope nobody starts writing that, because it's not true. But it would be an option, let me put it that way. It would be an option.
“You could DH Miggy and catch Victor and then obviously play [Ramon] Santiago or Donny Kelly at third, I don't think that's going to happen. But it would be an option if Alex were not able to play.”