Professional athletes are always looking for some kind of motivation. For new Chicago White Sox catcher Alex Avila, his motivation for the upcoming 2016 season will come from his father. It’s just not in the normal sense.
You see, Avila’s father, Al, is the general manager of the Detroit Tigers, the team that the 29-year-old has played for his entire career. As the assistant general manager, Al had a hand in drafting his son in the fifth round of the 2008 MLB Draft and was undoubtedly ecstatic when he was called up to the major leagues only a year later. Alex worked his way into the starting lineup and became a key player as the Tigers began to win division title after division as the new decade rolled around. He even became an All-Star in 2011.
However, his production declined somewhat starting in the 2012 season as injuries began to pile up. He hit .243 that season with nine home runs and 48 runs batted in and followed that up with a .227 average with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 2013. Things got even worse in 2014 as he hit a then-career-low .218. He was able to match his exact home run and RBI totals from the previous season and played stellar defense and was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award. It was enough for the Tigers to pick up $5.4 million option on his contract for the 2015 season, but Alex would lose his starting job to James McCann and also suffered a knee injury that limited his playing time. He played in only 67 games this past season and hit a career-low .191.
This is where things really get interesting. This past August, Dave Drombrowski was relieved of his general manager position in Detroit, thus allowing Al Avila to get the promotion he’d been waiting for. As his son’s contract expired following the season, a decision had to be made. Alex was a free agent and a father had to make the choice on whether or not to pursue his son in free agency. Obviously, Al ultimately decided not to bring his boy back to Detroit and Alex signed a one-year/$2.5 million contract with the White Sox in November. It’s a decision that Alex won’t soon forget.
Alex Avila reiterated today that when he signed with White Sox, he told his dad(the GM of the Tigers) “I can’t wait to kick your (bleep).”
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) January 30, 2016
If the rivalry between the Tigers and White Sox wasn’t fun enough, business has just picked up. It’s always a good thing when an athlete has a chip on his shoulder, but in the case of Alex Avila, that chip may be closer to his heart. Chicago White Sox fans can only hope that he can rekindle some of that All-Star-caliber play that he’s capable of. He’ll have to be a little patient on sticking it to the old man though. The White Sox don’t play their first game against the Tigers until June 3 in Detroit. You think Alex Avila already has that date circled on his calendar?