SEATTLE -- The Tigers brought back Gerald Laird as a backup catcher in large part to help ease the wear and tear on Alex Avila, who developed patella tendinitis in both knees by the end of the 2011 season from catching every day. Now that Avila has a sore patella tendon in his left knee again, Laird is back behind the plate for the rest of the Tigers' series in Seattle. At this point, Avila said, "I think it's a day-to-day thing. I definitely think I could be back Thursday." The Tigers begin a four-game series in Oakland on Thursday night. Avila is potentially available to catch in an emergency before that, but manager Jim Leyland does not expect to use him as a pinch-hitter these next couple of days.
"He had this issue last year some," Leyland said Tuesday afternoon. "I'm not making a big deal about it, but I'm not making light of it either." Neither is Avila, who said he has "no idea" why the problem resurfaced now after he spent the offseason working out to strengthen both knees. He said the team's medical staff told him he'll have to "amp up" his workouts to further strengthen the left knee. "It's one of those things where the area around my knee needs to be strengthened," he said, "and then I should be fine." Until then, Avila said, "I can't do anything more to it. It's just a pain-tolerance issue. It's not going to require surgery or anything like that." Leyland and Avila said he first felt it when he charged out from behind the plate on Michael Saunders' bunt single in the third inning on Monday. Avila didn't say anything about it to Leyland, who kept him in the game the rest of the night. "I felt bad last night," Leyland said. "I probably should've gotten him out of there in the ninth inning, but I didn't hear about it."