Avila, who went on the 15-day disabled list last week with a right hamstring strain, began doing baseball activities Friday. That included early batting practice in the afternoon and then hitting with the full team later.
It wasn't so much a sign of progress as it was a gauge for how far he needs to progress.
"We're evaluating him today as far as where his hamstring's at, basically going by what he's telling us, how he feels," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Friday afternoon. "He's going through agilities, he's going to do some running today, going to swing the bat. He's out there swinging the bat. ... We'll get a feel for him from an activity perspective today."
Basically, manager Jim Leyland said, they're trying to get an idea how far along Avila is, and how long he could realistically be out.
"We'd like to shoot for Pittsburgh [next weekend]," Leyland said about a return, "but I don't know if that's possible or not. A lot of positive stuff's got to happen."
Avila is aiming for it.
"My target is to be back next weekend," he said.
Simply doing any baseball activity is a step up for Avila at this point. He spent the road trip watching the Tigers on TV.
"It's been driving me crazy," Avila said. "I definitely have more of an appreciation for Skip and the coaches to sit and watch. I was more nervous watching than I ever have been playing, just because I wanted them to win."
Or as he put it at another point, "It's a lot better than sitting on the couch."