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Play at the plate hits close to home for Red Sox’ David Ross, Tigers’ Alex Avila

Red Sox catcher David Ross looks at Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who held on to the ball on this collision in the second inning. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross and Detroit counterpart Alex Avila were just doing their jobs when they collided at the plate in the second inning last night in Boston’s Game 5 win in the ALCS. Neither had any rancor after the play, but it’s tough not to wonder whether such an impact should be eliminated from baseball.

Tigers Manager Jim Leyland did as much after the game, suggesting to reporters that rules should be changed to help with the safety of the catchers.

For two catchers who have dealt with concussions, the impact carried extra meaning. Avila left the game in the fourth inning with a patellar tendon strain in his left knee and might not play in Saturday’s Game 6. He also took a foul ball off his mask in the third inning, but he said the knee is all that hurts.

Avila missed half of August because of a concussion. Ross also returned in August after missing more than two months following his second concussion of the season.

“I just told him, ‘Hey, man, you didn’t give me a choice,’ ” Ross said after Thursday night’s game, according to the Providence Journal. “Going hard. He understood, I think. We both actually just talked the other day about our concussions. I know what he’s been through, and he knows what I’ve been through. It’s one of those things.”

On the play, Ross was trying to score on Shane Victorino’s groundball to second baseman Omar Infante. An inning earlier, there could’ve been another collision, but the hobbled Miguel Cabrera didn’t even slide when Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes threw him out at the plate.

Detroit, which will send AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer on the mound for Game 6 against Clay Buchholz, could put its season on the line tomorrow without its regular catcher. Avila says he’ll be ready to play, but Leyland isn’t so sure.

“I’m not really sure of the significance,” Leyland told reporters last night. “The knee was pretty bad. I don’t want to sound like some emergency situation, because I don’t know that. But we felt like the best thing to do would be to get him out of there and hopefully be ready to play two days from now in Boston.”


Red Sox bullpen holds off Tigers in Game 5 victory

Dodgers are confident despite trailing 3-2

Notebook: L.A. expects Ramirez to start in Game 6


NLCS Game 6: Los Angeles at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m., TBS, WTEM (980 AM)

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