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'I felt our progress certainly stalled': Tigers owner Ilitch fires GM Avila

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

DETROIT — For the most part, Christopher Ilitch delivered the news like you would expect from the CEO. Directly. Unemotional.

"I'm looking for us to make progress each and every year and if we do that, ultimately, we're going to accomplish our objectives," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I felt our progress certainly stalled this season."

And with that, he announced that after 22 years, he was parting ways with Tigers vice president and general manager Al Avila.

"Once I decided to make a change over the last couple of days, I sat down with Al and thanked him for his 22 years of service. He understood. But out of respect for Al, I will keep the rest of our conversation private."

But the reality is, Avila has been with the Tigers since 2002 and is still very close to the Ilitch family. He was hired by Mike Ilitch to replace Dave Dombrowski in 2015. Christopher gave Avila a contract extension in 2019 that was going to expire after next season.

There was more to this than a cold business transaction.

 

"Al is a good man," Ilitch said. "He put his heart and soul into the Tigers' organization to try to build a winner for our fans. We sat down and talked and he understood. He's a Tiger through and through and he wants what's best for our organization."

Ilitch said he had no regrets about giving Avila the extension.

"This is one of the most difficult jobs in baseball, to start from the bottom and build it back up," Ilitch said. "Al took on that assignment. He didn't complain. He worked hard at it and he got a lot of good work done.

"And I appreciate that. Our organization appreciates that."

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