Tigers' new catcher Avila living a dream
Alex Avila was 15 the first time he set foot in the Tigers clubhouse. His dad, Al, who had just been hired as the Tigers vice-president and assistant general manager, brought his kid to work.
Young Alex knew then that he wanted to be a big league baseball player someday. Its always been my dream, he said. But, in his wildest dreams he never imagined that day would arrive so soon.
When Alex Avila, now 22 and a little more than a year removed from college, walked into the Tigers Comerica Park clubhouse late Wednesday afternoon, it was as a big league ballplayer.
Its pretty unbelievable that the day is already here, said Avila, who was summoned from Double-A Erie late Tuesday night to serve as the Tigers new back-up catcher. The time has gone by so quickly. I always thought that one day Id play in the big leagues. But I never thought it would happen this fast.
The Tigers are hoping Avila, who was batting .264 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI at Erie, will occasionally add a little pop to the lower third of their batting order something they didnt get from either of Avilas predecessors, Dusty Ryan (.160) and Dane Sardinha (.097).
I was shocked when I found out, Avila admitted. I was thinking Id finish the season at Erie and hopefully get in the playoffs there.
I wasnt even thinking about being called up in September. I wasnt paying a lot of attention to what was going on up here.
When Erie manager Tom Brookens, the former Tigers third baseman, called Avila into his office after the SeaWolves game Tuesday night to give him the news, the young catcher was speechless.
I couldnt find the words, I didnt know what to say, Avila admitted. I just sat there in his office. I couldnt believe it.
Of course, Al Avila, being one of the Tigers top executives, knew about Tuesday nights call-up before his son did. The elder Avila phoned his wife to give her the news and she, in turned, called Alexs fiancé Kristina.
When Alex finally left the Erie ballpark Tuesday night, bursting with excitement, he couldnt wait to tell Kristina, who was waiting for him in the parking lot.
Hey, weve got to get packed! the grinning Alex shouted.
Im already packed, his fiancé said, smiling.