Avila Gets the Call

Following Tuesday's game, Alex Avila was called into manager Tom Brookens office. At first he thought that Brookens was just giving him some advice and pointers about his game. Then, mid-sentence, he slipped in some news that instantly changed his life: Avila had just gotten called up to the big club.

Alex Avila, the son of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, will join the club Wednesday in Detroit for time for Wednesday's game against Baltimore. He is expected to get his first start on Thursday against Baltimore right-hander David Hernandez, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Jim Leyland also stated that Avila will appear in more games than his other back-up catchers have. Dusty Ryan, who previously held the role and was optioned to Toledo to make room for Avila, appeared in only 11 games where he posted a .160 average.

"I never thought it would happen this fast. I thought for sure I'd be here in Erie the rest of the year. Next year I figured I'd be back here in Erie or in Toledo then maybe after that I'd get the call," Avila said.

Avila, 22, who was hitting .264 with a .816 OPS, 12 homers and 55 RBI, thought it was just another day. He was penciled into his usual spot behind the plate, but about a half hour before the game he was scratched and had his position changed to designated hitter.

He started to think something was going on, but still wasn't sure.

"I'm definitely very surprised. I'm speechless. I had no idea this was coming. When I came in I saw that I was catching, and about a half-hour before the game skip told me I was just going to DH. I was wondering why I was just DH'ing instead of catching," Avila said.

"After the game he called me into his office and we were just talking about stuff to improve on, so I figured he was giving another day off to work on my catching and overall game. Then in the middle of the conversation he said I was going to Detroit. It completely shocked me," Avila said.

The move comes as somewhat of a surprise. Over the last 15 games, Avila has gone 7-for-56 at the plate and has managed to post only nine RBI and four home runs over that span.

As a result of that slump, he's also coming off his worst month of the season. Through the month of July, Avila only managed to muster 23 hits over 102 at-bats. Prior to his month long slump, Avila was hitting .288 with six homers and 35 RBI.

"He's had a great season. He plays a lot more mature than he is. He's only been catching for a year and a half, two-years. He'll have his hands full at the big league level. Evidentially we all like what we see, so he'll be going up," Brookens said.

Avila, 22, is only in his second season of professional baseball after starting at the University of Alabama, where he was drafted out of in the fifth round of 2008 amateur draft.

With the West Michigan Whitecaps last season, Avila's first as a professional, he played in 58 games while posting a .303/.383/.385 batting line with one home run and 22 RBI.

Wilkin Ramirez was also optioned back to Toledo and Chris Lambert was called up from Toledo on Tuesday.


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