CLEVELAND -- Alex Avila has had to answer plenty of questions about the Tigers' pitching struggles, from what's wrong with Justin Verlander in his latest start to the pitch selection for closer Joe Nathan in a close game. The question of whether he might be tipping pitches was a new one.
"I've heard some crazy things," Avila said Friday, "but this takes the cake."
It was a conspiracy theory straight out of the Internet comments section, but it gained enough traction to get asked. Somebody went into the comments section of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk site and argued that he was able to predict pitches with up to 85 percent accuracy from the second inning on based on watching Avila. If Avila pounded his mitt once before putting it where he wanted the ball, the pitcher threw a fastball. If he did it twice, the pitcher threw an offspeed pitch.
Avila got a laugh out of it.
"I know I don't pat my glove after every pitch, not even close," he said. "Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't."
There are many other problems with the theory, However, the notion of opposing teams gaining an advantage against a pitcher with a baserunner looking to home plate isn't anything new. Likewise, the possibilities of Tigers starters somehow tipping their pitches or baserunners looking at signs has been reviewed during the rotation's uncharacteristic struggles.
Sign stealing is one of the oldest tricks, and quietly one of the biggest worries for pitchers and catchers, which is why teams create such an intricate, redundant system of sign sets.
"Obviously, there's enough effort for people to talk about it," Avila said. "Every pitcher has a completely different set of signals. Even signals from the coaches, those are all made so the other team doesn't pick them up."
Holaday likely to see more time behind dish
CLEVELAND -- Bryan Holaday made his second consecutive start behind the plate for the Tigers on Friday, this time with a right-hander on the mound for the opposing team. The way he's playing, there could be more starts where those came from.
"He's playing well," manager Brad Ausmus said after Holaday's start Thursday against the Royals, his first start in a week. "That's been in the discussion for the past week and a half. A lot of times, it depends on who's pitching for the other team.
"The short answer is he probably is [going to get more starts], yeah."
So far this season, Holaday has generally had his starts reserved for left-handed opposing pitchers, comprising 10 out of his 15 starts before Friday. He hadn't started consecutive days since April 29-30 in Chicago.
Considered a defense-first catcher, Holaday has held his own at the plate, recording a base hit in each of his previous four starts this month. His three-hit game against the White Sox on June 12 was the best start of his career from an offensive standpoint.
Holaday entered Friday batting .306 (19-for-62) with a double, triple and seven RBIs. Nine of those hits were infield singles, four of them bunts.
Tigers to celebrate 30th anniversary of '84 title
DETROIT -- The Tigers will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1984 World Series championship on Monday, June 30, with a pregame ceremony ahead of their series opener against Oakland and a question-and-answer session beforehand with several members of the Tigers' last title-winning club.
Alan Trammell, 1984 World Series MVP, is scheduled to make the trip. The D-backs coach has an off-day on his schedule in the middle of Arizona's road trip. Trammell's double-play partner, Lou Whitaker, is also slated to make the trip. D-backs manager and former Tigers outfielder Kirk Gibson is currently not scheduled to attend.
Others slated to attend include Dan Petry, Juan Berenguer, Dave Bergman, Tom Brookens, Darrell Evans, Barbaro Garbey, Alex Grammas, John Grubb, Dave Rozema, Rod Allen, Doug Bair, Doug Baker and coach Dick Tracewski.
For the first 20,000 fans through the gates, the celebration will begin early with a 1984 replica road jersey. A roundtable discussion begins at 5 p.m. ET at the Big Cat Court, where fans can ask players about their favorite memories from that season.
The on-field ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Broadcaster Lane honored for achievements
DETROIT -- The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association has presented former Tigers broadcaster Ray Lane with the Ernie Harwell Lifetime Contribution Award for more than a half century of work on the air in Michigan.
Lane was Harwell's partner for Tigers radio broadcasts from 1967 through '72, just before Paul Carey took over. He worked with George Kell on Tigers television broadcasts in 1965 and '66, then returned as a fill-in host in the early and mid 2000s.
Lane also served as the voice of the Detroit Lions, Red Wings and Pistons, University of Michigan and Michigan State football, and University of Detroit basketball.
• Last week's Tigers rainout against the White Sox in Chicago will be made up with a doubleheader on Saturday, Aug. 30, the Tigers' lone remaining trip to the Windy City. It'll be a split doubleheader with 1:10 p.m. ET and 7:10 starts. The Tigers already had a split doubleheader scheduled for the previous Saturday at Minnesota, so they'll have two doubleheaders in as many weekends on the road. Both trips come in a stretch where the Tigers have only one off-day scheduled over three weeks, so Detroit will play 24 games in 23 days, and 15 of those games will be on the road.