Friday, 1 July 2011

All-Star Game voting set to close; will Tigers' Alex Avila pass Yankees' Russell Martin?

Alex Avila Mug.jpgAlex AvilaDETROIT -- Voting for the All-Star Game ends Thursday, and Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila is closing in on the New York Yankees’ Russell Martin for the American League starter. As of Tuesday, Avila trailed by about 400,000 votes, the closest he has been all season.

Avila led all American League catchers with a .303 average and .373 on-base percentage entering play Wednesday. His 10 home runs were fourth.

Martin is batting .229, but benefits in the fan voting from playing in the New York market.

The winner will be announced Sunday.

The impetus for Avila’s push has come from an online campaign launched by teammate Justin Verlander and supported by Brad Penny. In particular, they have used the hashtag "#votevila" on Twitter to garner support for Avila — a name that now can be seen on signs and shirts throughout Comerica Park.

Has Avila been tracking his online support?

"I would if I knew how," Avila said.

The 24-year-old isn’t exactly skilled when it comes to technology.

"I don’t do Twitter and Facebook, and I’ve never been big into computers and things like that," Avila said. "In college, my friends would make fun of me because I had a computer and didn’t know how to turn it on.

"I’m better with texting, but my thumbs are too big."

How does he get his news, if he doesn’t use the Internet?

"Newspapers," Avila said.

He’s 24, right?

Boos for Raburn
Perhaps no Tigers player has drawn more fire this year than Ryan Raburn, the Tigers’ outfielder-turned-second baseman who is hitting .163 with 41 strikeouts in his past 41 games.

Raburn has been booed in recent weeks, but Leyland said he does not plan to sit him anytime soon.

"I thought he’d be out of (his slump) by now," Leyland said. "He’s shown signs of it, but then doesn’t do it.

"I put him in the lineup ... that’s about as much confidence as you can get from a manger, is you play him."

Poking fun
Leyland said when he got home from Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, his college-bound daughter made him watch his tirade with her.

"She was laughing pretty good," he said, "and so was I. It doesn’t cost much to make a fool of yourself."

Leyland also was asked about the standing ovation he received as he left the field after being ejected for arguing an out/safe call.

"Maybe they just thought I was going to continue to keep on going," he said.

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