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Recovering from concussion, Avila takes BP

DETROIT -- Alex Avila was in for his toughest tests yet on Tuesday after suffering a concussion more than a week ago and passing a battery of tests in accordance with Major League Baseball protocol over the weekend.

Before Tuesday's game against the Twins, Avila took batting practice, did catching drills and threw to bases.

"Alex had a very good day," manager Jim Leyland said. "I talked to [head athletic trainer] Kevin [Rand] about it. We're going to see how he comes in tomorrow. There's a lot of different possibilities. If he is OK, you have to decide are you going to send him out to play a game or so, how you're going to handle that situation. But we haven't come to that point yet."

Leyland has said multiple times that Avila has been hit by more foul tips than any other catcher he's ever seen, and players around the league have noticed the same thing.

"Well, that pitching staff is hard to hit. But yeah, for whatever reason, there's some guys that get more beat up than others," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "It's a position where you get beat up anyway, but I know playing against Alex for a few years, he tends to take a pretty good beating back there."

Avila tried to switch to a hockey mask in the past, but found it uncomfortable. Mauer switched the shell of his helmet to a prototype made by Rawlings, which is supposed to limit concussions.

"Like any hitter will tell you when they switch to the new batting helmets, they're heavier, a little more bulky and they kind of slimmed them down," Mauer said. "But it's definitely heavier, I can tell you that. We're still trying to get the safest scenario possible."

Whether the key to preventing concussions is in the shell or mask, catchers are happy to see more options are available.

"That position, catcher, they're a lot more in the line of danger than a hitter," Mauer said. "I would even like to see the umpires get in on that, too. They're back there taking shots and stuff like that. Hopefully, the research they're doing keeps getting better."

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for
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