Avila says he’ll be back catching next season

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Alex Avila said after the Tigers’ 2-1 loss to the Orioles Sunday he plans on playing, and catching, in 2015. He said he plans to be playing and catching for many years to come.

Normally, that statement wouldn’t be challenged on a player who is 27 years old. But Avila suffered another brain injury in the sixth inning of Game 3. It was his third concussion this season and fourth in the last two years.

His susceptibility to them, coupled with the built-in dangers of playing catcher, have put his future in at least some doubt.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind,” Avila said, when asked if he is beginning to worry his quality of life going forward if the concussions persist. “I just have to take it one day at a time. Tomorrow I will go through another test. I will have X-rays of my neck, CTC Scan, MRI — things like that to make sure I am OK.”

He will also seek out opinions from other doctors and neurologists this offseason.

But, he added with emphasis, “I fully expect to be playing next year. That’s what I expect.”

Avila, who had a double in the game, one of two hits off Orioles starter Bud Norris, took a foul ball square in the mask off the bat of Steve Pearce leading off the sixth inning.

“That was a real good one,” said Avila after the game, still appearing a little woozy. “My jaw is pretty sore. Unfortunately, it was good enough to knock me out of the game.”

Avila didn’t leave the game without a fight, though. He tried to persuade head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and manager Brad Ausmus to leave him in. But he was clearly in no condition to play.

“They had to take me off the field; I wasn’t going to come out of that game,” he said. “I didn’t want to come out of that game, knowing where we were in the series. But at the same time, I understand that Kevin and Brad had to protect me from myself. I didn’t have my better judgment on the field at that time.”

With his head still pounding and his eyes still glassy, Avila tried to get his mind around the disappointment of getting swept out of the ALDS by the Orioles.

“It’s extremely tough,” he said. “I hate losing, especially these last three games where we haven’t played well. I expect us to contend for the World Series every year.

“But we really fell flat in this series and I am pretty upset by it.”

Asked what was ultimately missing from this team, Avila said, “Timely hits, at least in this series, and pitching at the right time. This was a tough series. These last three game we couldn’t find a way to get it done offensively or on the mound.

“Very disappointing.”