Detroit • The Detroit Tigers removed banged-up catcher Alex Avila from Game 5 of the AL championship series against the Boston Red Sox because of a sprained left knee.
After the Red Sox beat Detroit 4-3 Thursday night, Avila sounded confident he will be back in the lineup when the Tigers are on the brink of elimination on Saturday in Boston.
"I should be fine," he said. "I tried to stay out there, but I just didn't have any mobility back there. It was hurting pretty good, so we decided to get me out and see how it feels in a couple days."
Brayan Pena pinch hit for Avila in the fourth inning Thursday night. With Detroit trailing by four runs, Pena grounded into an inning-ending double play with two on in the first postseason at-bat of his nine-year career. The backup catcher had an RBI later in the game.
Avila was run over by fellow catcher David Ross on a play at the plate in the second. Ross lowered his right shoulder as he delivered a blow to Avila's head. Avila held onto the ball for the out after a violent collision that Tigers manager Jim Leyland hopes can become a play of the past.
"I think there should be changes made at some point," Leyland said. "It has nothing to do with tonight because the rules are what they are still. David really did the only thing he could do. I have absolutely no problem with that. It's a tough play for a catcher."
Ross fouled off a pitch the next inning that knocked Avila's mask off.
Avila was out for more than two weeks in August because of a concussion.