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Alex Avila remains out of the lineup, Joakim Soria improving

Alex Avila has missed playing time for three days, but he could return to the lineup on Saturday if no symptoms pop up. Joakim Soria threw off the mound for the first time and felt no pain, a good sign.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — Alex Avila will not be catching for the third consecutive day after experiencing a headache Thursday. Backup catcher Bryan Holaday will start again in his stead.

Avila suffered a near-direct foul ball to the mask in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game and was literally knocked over. He was removed from the game and appeared dazed in the dugout, but Avila said after the game that he felt better after undergoing cold treatment.

Avila was expected to miss one start, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has now kept him out of the lineup for three days as a precaution. The Tigers could put Avila on the seven-day disabled list as a result of a concussion or concussion-like symptoms, but Ausmus said that they aren't at that point with Avila.

"Yesterday when he started getting active, he had a mild headache," Ausmus said. "It may or may not be related to the hit he took the other night but better to be safe than sorry. He may have just had a headache because he had a headache."

Avila could pinch-hit for the Tigers Friday if needed, but Ausmus hasn't decided if he'll utilize that option as of right now.

"We would want to have him have a day where he's completely symptom-free," Ausmus said. "So far today he's been good."

The Tigers are hoping Friday is the last day Avila needs to remain out of the game, but if Avila isn't able to return to duty soon, Ausmus will start James McCann behind the plate. Holaday can't catch every game, but Ausmus is also being just as cautious with starting McCann as returning Avila to his duties behind the plate.

Joakim Soria has been on the disabled list since August 9 for a strained oblique and it's been a slow, gradual recovery process. Soria may be returning to the Tigers bullpen soon if his recovery keeps course, a welcome thought after missing what has amounted to 27 days so far.

Soria threw 39 pitches off the mound on Friday and was pain-free, an encouraging sign. The Tigers will see how Soria is feeling on Saturday and if everything checks out, Soria could be facing live hitters as early as Monday. Understandably, Soria has been anxious to get back.

"It's one step at a time," Ausmus said. "We gotta see how he feels before any decisions are made. Obviously, yeah. If he feels good, then that's good news for us."