CLEVELAND -- Tigers catcher Alex Avila was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game Thursday, but manager Brad Ausmus said he was medically cleared to play against the Indians, if needed.
Avila was struck squarely on the mask by a foul ball in the sixth inning Tuesday, forcing him to leave the game at Progressive Field. He underwent a series of tests that ruled out a concussion, but hasn't completely recovered from the blow.
"Alex is having a little bit of lingering effects from the head shot," Ausmus said. "That's what the trainers told me today, so we're going to hold him out again. He'll be available, I guess, if we need him to pinch-hit."
Bryan Holaday, who replaced Avila after he was hurt, started at catcher for the second consecutive game, and he delivered a two-run single in the first inning. Rookie James McCann continues to serve as the Tigers' temporary backup, while first baseman Victor Martinez is their emergency third-string catcher.
Avila has played in 110 games, batting .223 with 10 homers and 43 RBIs. He was injured when a pitch from Al Alburquerque deflected off the bat of Cleveland rookie Tyler Holt.
In other Detroit injury news, reliever Joakim Soria is scheduled to throw off the mound Friday at Comerica Park. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since Aug. 10 with a left oblique strain, but he has completed throwing sessions in seven of the last 10 days.
Ausmus said Soria will pitch at least one simulated game before he would be activated.
Reliever Luke Putkonen is also nearing a return after being on the DL since April 19 with right elbow inflammation.
The righty made his third rehabilitation appearance at Class A West Michigan, allowing two runs in one inning Wednesday. Putkonen has a 20.25 ERA in 2 2/3 innings with the Whitecaps, who are competing in the Midwest League playoffs.
Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.