Tigers' Avila keeping a level head as trade rumors swirl
Kansas City, Mo. — Alex Avila has experienced just about every situation or scenario the game of baseball can throw at a player. But this is new.
For the first time in his career, he is the subject of trade rumors during a season.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s not like it hasn’t been on my mind,” he said before Thursday’s game agsinst the Kansas City Royals. “I mean, you hear people talk about it. Everybody’s asking questions about it. So you think about it.
“But to be honest, once I get here and I am in the lineup, I go about my normal business without any concern about it.”
The Cubs have been the most prominent suitor for Avila. The Rangers, Blue Jays and Rockies have also been mentioned as having at least inquired about him.
“I think as a veteran player, when you sign a one-year contract, that’s just something you understand is a possibility, that you could be on the move again,” he said. “But by being a veteran, you have the experience to know that when you get near the trade deadline and you are in the position we are as a team, you understand that it’s a possibility.”
Detroit, obviously, is Avila’s home. He grew up in this organization and perhaps, when he signed back last off-season after a season in Chicago with the White Sox, he entertained the thought of finishing his career with the Tigers.
But he’s actually put himself on the market, as his on-field production has made him a coveted trade piece. He’s had an offensive renaissance this season, hitting .286 with robust .413 on-base and .508 slugging percentages.
As comfortable as he is with the Tigers, being desired by a playoff contender is flattering.
“Yeah, that’s definitely one way to look at it, for sure,” he said. “It’s something that can be exciting, as well. Most of the time guys would rather not have to move, just because it’s easier not to.
“But that’s what makes the business side so tough; sometimes you have to make tough decisions that you don’t plan on doing for the betterment of the organization or for yourself. I something I think about, but I try not to let it overtake my day.”
Never did he think it would take this long to get back.
Jim Adduci made an instant impact on the Tigers lineup when he was brought up from Toledo in April. He hit .318 and provided a left-handed hitting spark. But he strained an oblique muscle on May 10.
He didn’t make it back to the Tigers until Wednesday night, taking the spot vacated by the trade of J.D. Martinez.
“I just tried to keep myself in a position to keep learning,” he said, when asked how he handled the long absence. “Even if I was hurt, I was still trying to learn from the guys who were in the lineup, All-Stars and MVPs. Just keep trying to push your mind.
“Watch the games, think about how I would manage the game – so much stuff I was trying to do.”
It was the first time he’d ever injured a muscle. He’s dealt with broken bones, which have a more finite recovery time. The uncertainty tried his patience. But once he was cleared for baseball activities, it didn’t take him long to get back into the swing.
“It took a good four or five games probably to get the rust off,” he said. “Everybody is in midseason form and I’m trying to jump back into it. But after those first few games, I really felt good. I felt like I was getting back to who I was before I got hurt.”
He played some center field during his time in Toledo. He played mostly center field during his four-year stint in Korea. With Mikie Mahtook settling in as the everyday center fielder, though, Adduci is going to get the bulk of his starts in right field.
There is an opening there with Martinez gone.
“J.D. was a great teammate,” Adduci said. “I talked to him a lot about hitting. I wish him nothing but the best. Obviously, I have an opportunity to come back here, but I am going about it the same as I did before.
“I really want to enjoy being here and not worry so much about the future. Just worry about today.”
Better without J.D.?
It’s been suggested that the Tigers will be able to off-set the loss of Martinez by being able to get another left-handed bat in the lineup (Adduci or Alex Presley) and by improved defense.
Not so fast, manager Brad Ausmus said.
“We are definitely going to miss his bat,” he said. “We’re not going to replace that. You can get a left-handed bat in the lineup, but let’s be honest, J.D.’s right-handed bat against a righty is better than most left-handed bats against a righty.
“In that sense, we’re not going to replace his offense. But we will probably cover more ground in right field.”
Around the horn
The Tigers High-A team in Lakeland is having a brutal season, weatherwise. Normally, the Flying Tigers play through dense Florida heat daily, rarely do they need to worry about rainouts. This year, they’ve had 13 games postponed because of rain.