Alex Avila has a home run and a single his last two games.

That might not be enough to get the wolves off his back.

You see, the Tigers catcher, an All-Star in 2011, is hitting a mere .183 this season. Sure, we're only a month into the season, but considering his past — Avila hit .228 in 2010, .295 in 2011 and slumped to .243 last season — .183 is not what fans have come to expect.

While he's working around the clock to correct his offense, he knows he's here for something else: defense.

He is here to be a catcher. His defense cannot slip. His command of the pitching staff cannot falter. The Tigers can survive his season-beginning slump. They cannot survive a hole in his glove. The Tigers have enough bats to carry Avila's poor start at the plate, although is it too much to ask for him to hit around .260?

"It (defense) has to be there," Avila said. "That is why I was made a catcher. Every catcher will tell you the same thing."

That became clear Thursday — when he didn't play in a 6-2 loss to the Twins.

Brayan Pena started at catcher, and dropped a sure out on Justin Morneau at the plate on a throw from Matt Tuiasosopo in the first inning.

Would Avila have made the play? Who knows? But he has.
Tigers confident

Avila eventually will break his slump, if simply for his own peace of mind. He knows he belongs in the majors. He's shown he can handle the job.

"You are going to have peaks and valleys; that is the nature of the game," left fielder Andy Dirks said. "When you start out cold and you see the numbers, it magnifies everything.

"He's a mentally tough guy and he will be fine. Once you find your stroke and you get it back where you are confident with it, then you start hitting."