Avila struggled with several nagging injuries in 2012, appearing in only 116 games. The catcher's production was also disappointing, as he hit just .243 with nine home runs. Many were expecting a strong followup performance to his impressive 2011 campaign in which Avila slugged 19 homers and hit .295 in 141 games. Curiously, Avila - who was born in Florida - was claimed by team Spain.
Victor Martinez, the catcher turned first baseman turned designated hitter, missed all of the 2012 season with a knee injury that required surgery. He is expected to be ready for spring training, but the WBC would place extra strain on Martinez. The DH is entering the third year of a four-year, $50 contract, and the Tigers are not taking any chances with Martinez's health.
Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera is expected to compete with Venezuela, though official rosters will not be announced until January.