Detroit — Brad Ausmus wasn't about to reveal his depth chart, not at catcher and certainly not four weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
"We've got three catchers who can catch at the Major League level," Ausmus said. "Obviously we have Alex (Avila). We have Doc (Bryan Holaday), who is a tremendous asset on the team. He's high-energy, always prepared, the guys like him, he's got a good sense of humor and he cares.
"And James McCann we think is going to be a good catcher. He came up and handled himself well in a pennant race and caught that big game in Kansas City coming down the stretch. How it shapes up, I can't tell you at this point."
What seems clear, though, is the Tigers are more open to the idea of at least sharing the catcher position than they have been in the past.
Here's what Ausmus said last month during the winter meetings.
"It's certainly open at this point. Clearly Alex has shown he has the ability to be an everyday catcher. He works well with the pitchers, they trust him. But I also think a guy like McCann has a very bright future. I like the way he catches."
Pressed further on whether he will consider a platoon, he said, "A decision on who's No. 1 or No. 2 won't be made until spring training, or even if there is a No. 1 and a No. 2. Maybe there will be a split. I can't give you a full answer. All I can say is Alex is an established big league catcher and I really like McCann. And Holaday did a really nice job as a back-up last season.
"But a decision won't be made until March."
Avila has been the full-time catcher since 2010, catching 587 games in that span. He will be 28 on Thursday and there is some evidence that the heavy workload, as well as multiple concussions, has exacted a toll.
Although in his career he's hit better in the second half of the season (.260 vs. .234), his production plummeted in the second half last season (.201 with a .304 on-base percentage).
But know this: Avila is healthy, concussion symptoms-free and not ready to concede any playing time.
"I feel great," he said. "After a few days (after the season) I was fine and I've been working out regularly."
Avila will wear a hockey-style mask for the first time in hopes of better protecting himself against concussions. He's also added some new wrinkles to his workout regimen.
"I've been working a lot on my neck, doing stuff that football players and boxers do to strengthen the neck," he said. "I've been incorporating that into my workouts. We'll see if that helps."
Avila was stoic on the topic of possibly sharing the catching duties this season.
"Whenever Brad puts me in the lineup is when I'll be in the lineup; that's the bottom line," he said. "It will depend on performance, just like any other season."
As for McCann, well, it's been a busy offseason even though he didn't play winter ball for the first time since turning pro.
"I got married," he said, flashing the silver band on his left hand. "It was about as perfect as it could've gone."
McCann said he was initially a little worried about skipping winter ball, but in retrospect, he's glad he did.
"At the end of the day, my body definitely could use the break and I took care of it," he said. "I really didn't take a long amount of time off. I stayed in the weight room all offseason and just let my body rest to where I thought I needed it to be."
McCann is certainly mindful of the opportunity he's being afforded this spring.
"It's a little bit different than previous years," he said. "At the same time, I have to control what I can control. I am not the one who makes these decisions. Obviously, the performance on the field is No. 1. Each and every day I'm going to do what I can to get better and to reach that goal."
McCann made it clear that the little taste of big league baseball he got last year only made him starving for more.
"Ever since you are kid playing whiffle ball in the backyard you dream of being with Miguel Cabrera and the big name guys, then all of sudden you're on the same stage — that's the coolest thing," McCann said. "Being on that stage is pretty special.
"But I was there for a month. People ask me what it feels like to be in the big leagues. Well, I reached a goal but the dream isn't over. My dream is to establish myself as a big-leaguer."
Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky