LAKELAND, Fla. -- If the season opened Sunday, Alex Avila would be playing through back spasms. He gets them a couple of times a year, he said, but it usually doesn't force him out of the lineup.
Since Grapefruit League play hasn't started yet, however, Avila isn't pushing it. He missed a second day of Tigers workouts Sunday, spending most of the morning in the clubhouse while receiving treatment and doing lower-back exercises.
Avila felt enough improvement by midday that he expects to return on Monday, when Justin Verlander throws to hitters for the first time this spring.
"The way I'm feeling today, I most likely would be available [Monday]," Avila said. "That's according to how I progressed from yesterday."
If the second week of workouts seems early for annual back spasms, Avila wouldn't argue.
"I've never had them in Spring Training," he said. "I've gotten them sometimes during the year and ended up just playing through it, but I've never had them in the spring."
The Tigers had more than enough catchers to pick up Avila's workload. Without Avila hitting against him, however, Max Scherzer had to find another teammate to oppose him. He envisioned Andy Dirks at bat with runners at second and third base and two outs, but Dirks got enough of a first-pitch changeup to dump it into center field.