Ausmus: Avila, McCann likely to return to usual roles

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — As Alex Avila's recovery from a left knee injury hits the home stretch, manager Brad Ausmus was asked Saturday how he planned to use James McCann when Avila is back.

"Probably similar to how it was before Alex left," he said.

That Avila would remain the Tigers' primary catcher shouldn't be a surprise. But because McCann has played well in Avila's absence, the thought was perhaps he earned a larger share of the playing time.

Maybe not.

"He has done a nice job," Ausmus said. "But it probably will return to the way it was."

When Avila went on the disabled list May 8, he had started 20 of the team's 29 games. McCann started nine.

"It's going to depend on who the opposing pitcher is," Ausmus said. "Alex will play against right-handers and McCann against left-handers, with occasional righty-righty, lefty-lefty games."

Avila went 1 for 3 in his first rehab game Friday and caught five innings.

"Alex felt good today," Ausmus said. "The knee didn't bother him at all. I talked to him this morning and there were no after-effects. He said his legs weren't even tired from catching."

Avila was scheduled to be the designated hitter Saturday, then catch five to seven innings in the Mud Hens' next game. He is still expected to play eight games in his rehab stint.

"We're not worried about him getting at-bats," Ausmus said. "It's more about him building up to catching."