The Tigers had a catcher, Alex Avila, whose batting average was a week's drive south of the Mendoza Line.
They couldn't send him to the minors because no one else knows how to steer Detroit's pitchers through the reefs of a game as well as he does. Catching is probably the one position where a plastic bat doesn't automatically disqualify you from playing.
A team with championship aspirations isn't likely to call up a hot-shot rookie and put him at the controls of a veteran rotation. Or turn the team over to a backup who just arrived between seasons.
Fate stepped in Sunday, though, in the form of a pitch that struck Avila just above the left wrist after he'd had two hits to lift his batting average all the way up to .172.
Avila was unable to play Monday or Tuesday, probably not Wednesday and perhaps would not be ready to play again until the weekend.
So Detroit put him on the 15-day disabled list and brought up rookie Bryan Holaday, who spent a couple weeks with the Tigers last season while Avila nursed a bad hamstring.
Could the Tigers have gone five days with Brayan Pena catching? Probably, but it would have left manager Jim Leyland holding his breath that Pena didn't get hurt and forced him to use either emergency catcher Don Kelly or DH Victor Martinez, who missed last season due to knee surgery and hadn't caught much the year before that.
"It was tough to grip anything," Avila said. "I would say it's something that will take a few days (to get better), and you can't leave the team short-handed."
What the injury also does is give Avila a chance to clear his mind of negative thoughts and get some insight into why he's hitting barely more than a retired jockey's weight.
It also allows Detroit to send Avila on a short rehab assignment to Triple-A Toledo, where he can make some adjustments in a less stressful environment and for a period of time likely to be less than the 10-day minimum were it to option him out.
It's funny how problems sometimes have a way of solving themselves, or at least have a chance to take care of themselves.
NEXT: Orioles (Chris Tillman, 7-2, 3.61) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 4-3, 4.37)
CF Austin Jackson is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with five runs and four RBIs since coming off the disabled list on Friday, raising his season average to .288. Manager Jim Leyland is thrilled that Jackson, who missed over a month with a hamstring pull, hasn't had any setbacks and that his timing has been sharp despite the layoff. Jackson's presence has also made it easier for him to make out lineups, with Jackson back on top and the next five spots virtually set in stone.
RHP Rick Porcello will try to extend his streak of quality starts to five games when he faces Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon. Porcello has allowed just four earned runs during that stretch while lasting at least six innings each time. He lost to the Orioles at Camden Yards on June 2 while allowing three runs in six innings. His strikeout totals have also spiked upward, as he's recorded at least five in eight of his last nine starts, thanks to his highly effective sinker.
DH Victor Martinez is the team's emergency catcher but manager Jim Leyland hopes he never has to use him in that role this season. There was no consideration to make Martinez the backup catcher behind Brayan Pena when Alex Avila (forearm contusion) went on the disabled list on Monday. Martinez missed last season after undergoing knee surgery. He is batting .228 after going 0-for-3 on Tuesday.
LHP Drew Smyly will only be available on an emergency basis Wednesday after throwing three perfect innings on Monday. Manager Jim Leyland wants to give Smyly, who has excelled in his long relief role, at least two days off. Smyly is 2-0 with a 1.94 ERA and two saves in 41 2/3 innings. Leyland considers him a starter but he's been so strong in his role that Leyland won't put him in the rotation despite Anibal Sanchez (right shoulder strain) going on the disabled list.
OF Matt Tuiasosopo hit his third homer of the season on Tuesday, a solo shot in the fifth. Tuiasosopo has thrived as a platoon player, alternating with left-handed hitter Andy Dirks in left field most of the season. He's hitting .333 with an on-base percentage above .450.
RHP Justin Verlander had one of his worst outings this season, giving up five runs in five innings to the Orioles on Tuesday. Verlander had an 8-0 career record against the Orioles, his most wins against any team without a defeat. He was victimized by two homers, the first to J.J. Hardy and the second to Adam Jones, who had gone 2-for-26 against him before that at-bat. The run total tied for the second highest surrendered by Verlander this season. Lack of control was a factor as he issued four walks and threw only 60 strikes on 102 pitches.
3B Miguel Cabrera had two more hits on Tuesday, raising his major league leading average to .359. However, Cabrera left six men on base in his last three at-bats as his RBI total remained at 71. He hit into a double play against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson to end the game. Cabrera needs two more hits to reach the 100 mark.
C Alex Avila was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 17 after being hit just above the left wrist by a pitch in the ninth inning of the previous day's 5-2 Detroit victory at Minnesota. Notorious tough-guy Avila said afterward it's the most pain he's ever felt on a baseball field. His left arm was swollen so much the next day he was unable to grip a bat so the Tigers disabled him even though he'd probably be ready to play by week's end. C Brayan Holaday was brought up to replace him.
RHP Anibal Sanchez was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 16 due to continued weakness in his right shoulder. Sanchez missed a start, but when he returned to the rotation, his velocity was down and he walked a season-high four batters in his 3 2/3 innings of work. LHP Jose Alvarez, who started when Sanchez missed his turn, will be brought up Thursday to take Sanchez's spot in the rotation.
"There's ups and downs and peaks and valleys. Tonight was just one of those nights where two long balls hurt me. Who knows what happens if I was able to execute those pitches a little bit better. I'm not saying I've regressed. It's just one of those games. This is major league baseball. You're not going to be perfect every time."—RHP Justin Verlander, who gave up five runs on seven hits in five innings Tuesday and saw his personal four-game winning streak snapped.
C Alex Avila (deep contusion, left forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list June 17.
RHP Anibal Sanchez (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 16.
RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 8. Dotel has been unable to progress beyond light throwing or minimal mound work while working out at the club's spring training base in Lakeland, Fla.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Doug Fister
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Joaquin Benoit
LHP Drew Smyly
LHP Darin Downs
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Luke Putkonen
RHP Evan Reed
1B Prince Fielder
2B Omar Infante
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
INF Ramon Santiago
LF Andy Dirks
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
OF Matt Tuiasosopo
OF Don Kelly
OF Avisail Garcia