CHICAGO -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has already drawn attention with his contention that Miguel Cabrera deserved to be the American League's Most Valuable Player. When the question came up again Monday morning at U.S. Cellular Field, he took his remarks to another level.
"I would be shocked if he's not the MVP," Leyland said. "It would blow my mind. But I don't have any vote. But I don't want to tick the guys off that do vote, so I don't want to get into it.
"If he's not the MVP, I would be shocked."
Cabrera's three hits Sunday moved him back ahead of Mike Trout by one point (.330 vs. .329) in the AL batting race. His three-run homer, meanwhile, left him in a tie with Texas' Josh Hamilton for the AL RBI lead (123), while he's four behind in home runs (42 to 38).
In other words, he has a grasp on two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Of course, Dodgers All-Star Matt Kemp won the home run and RBI titles in the National League last year while finishing third in batting average, and he ended up being runner-up to MVP Ryan Braun.
Avila passes concussion tests after collision
CHICAGO -- Alex Avila remembers hearing teammates yelling that he had room to make the catch on Carlos Santana's pop foul Sunday in Cleveland. Or maybe they were yelling that to Prince Fielder. He couldn't tell.
"I mean, we both were going to the ball," Avila said Monday morning. "We both were hearing the same thing, as far as the dugout yelling, 'You got room, you got room,' figuring they were talking to me, and him figuring they were talking to him. Unlucky play."
The play itself, Avila doesn't remember. Everything after chasing down the ball is a blank. He had to watch the replay to figure out what exactly happened.
"I was knocked out," Avila said. "I don't remember the hit or falling down or anything. I just remember when [assistant athletic trainer Steve] Carter was yelling my name."
Avila said he passed concussion tests Sunday night, when the damage appeared to be limited to a sprained jaw. If he had gotten through batting practice without trouble, he would have been available to pinch-hit.
Once he experienced headaches afterward, though, he was held out as a precaution. It was not known whether he traveled back with the team Monday night, and his status for Tuesday's game against Oakland is questionable.
Jackson's sore ankle impacting lineup options
CHICAGO -- Three hours before Monday's makeup game against the White Sox, the Tigers' lineup card sat on manager Jim Leyland's desk. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young were written in. The other six spots were blank.
It was all hinging on one player. That's how much of a difference Austin Jackson makes with this team.
Had Jackson's sore left ankle not allowed him to play, Leyland was ready to start rookie Avisail Garcia in center field. Moreover, he admitted that he briefly weighed starting Omar Infante in the outfield, one of his previous spots when he was a utility man with the Atlanta Braves, and starting Danny Worth at second. Leyland eventually decided against it.
Jackson injured his ankle Saturday at Progressive Field, where he crashed into the center-field fence trying to make a catch on Carlos Santana's triple that broke up Anibal Sanchez's no-hit bid. He initially said Saturday he was OK, but was noticeably limping around the clubhouse Sunday morning.
Positioning cost Kelly on crucial play
CHICAGO -- Had the situation been different, Don Kelly believes he would have made the catch on Carlos Santana's triple off the right-field fence that fueled Cleveland's ninth-inning comeback Sunday at Progressive Field.
If Jason Kipnis was on first base, rather than second, Kelly would have been playing deeper to try to prevent extra bases, and would have gotten to the fence before Santana's drive did, allowing him to make a jumping catch. With Kipnis on second, he was positioned closer to make a throw home on a single.
Given that extra base, they could not play a "no-doubles" defense.
"We were playing him in a place where you have to be able to throw the guy out from second base," Kelly said, "so we weren't playing him deep at all. I was playing normal or maybe even in a step."
Kelly still made a jump at the fence, while he was flying into it. He got his glove on the ball, but couldn't hold it.
"When I went up and I saw it hit right in the palm, even if I had it for a split second," Kelly said, "the way that I hit, I don't know if I would've been able to hang on anyway. It wasn't in the web."
Kelly said he had a sore neck that felt like whiplash from the collision. He felt worse on the flight to Chicago on Sunday night.
"I had a headache," he said. "I haven't watched the replay. I don't know if I hit my head off of the ground or what, but I had a pretty bad headache last night."
Manager Jim Leyland did see the replay. Despite the situation, he was able to make some humor out of the play.
"He looked like a wounded giraffe," Leyland joked.