DETROIT -- Alex Avila doesn't have to sit still watching Tigers games anymore. On Thursday, he was back behind the plate at Comerica Park, and the Tigers were one step closer to health.
The Tigers activated their All-Star catcher from the 15-day disabled list Thursday morning after three Minor League games in which he was rehabbing from a right hamstring strain. He was in the starting lineup for the series finale against the Cardinals, catching Tigers top pitching prospect Jacob Turner.
Avila caught parts of two games with Triple-A Toledo and served as the designated hitter Wednesday night. He said he knew going in that he was healthy, but that the rehab assignment provided proof.
By Wednesday night, the question wasn't when Avila would be activated, but how the Tigers would make room. They had to wait on Gerald Laird's health after he left Wednesday's game with left hamstring cramps, but he was fine Thursday morning.
Thus, backup catcher Bryan Holaday was the guy to go, optioned to Toledo. The 24-year-old played four games in his first big league stint, going 3-for-10 with a double while throwing out one out of three would-be basestealers.
"I like him a lot," manager Jim Leyland said. "He can catch and throw here right now. He blocks the ball well, has got good energy, sees the ball well, good thrower. I like that. If he doesn't hit, he's probably a backup. If he hits, he's probably a regular somewhere."
At Toledo, he'll be a platoon catcher. While the Mud Hens are getting Holaday back, fellow Tigers catching prospect Rob Brantly will not return to Double-A Erie. They'll share catching duties, an adjustment in plans in the wake of Omir Santos' departure from the organization.