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SHOCKER: Tigers Suddenly Release Dombrowski [VIDEO]

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) It's official: The Detroit Tigers have suddenly released General Manager Dave Dombrowski.

Amid a struggling season which has the team at 51-54, they apparently decided to go another direction.

Assistant General Manager Al Avila has been promoted to the role of executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager, the team announced.

Avila will assume all responsibilities related to baseball operations of the club and he will report directly to Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch. Executive Vice President of Business Operations, Duane McLean, will continue to oversee all aspects of the team's business operations and will also report directly to the team owner.

"I would like to thank Dave Dombrowski for his 14 years of service," said Ilitch in a press release.  "Together we've enjoyed some success, but we're still in aggressive pursuit of our ultimate goal: to bring a World Series title to Detroit and Michigan.  I've decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities.  I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership."

"I'm very excited for this opportunity, and honored and grateful to Mr. Ilitch for having the faith and trust in me to run the ballclub in our continuing pursuit of a World Series championship," said Avila.  "After 24 years in professional baseball and 14 with the Detroit Tigers, I believe I'm uniquely qualified to be successful in this role in leading this organization.

"We're confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come."

Since Dombrowski was on board, the team played in two World Series and played in the post-season five teams and won the AL Central four times.

Reporters, who were waiting outside the clubhouse for 30 minutes for what they thought was a routine presser, were shocked by the announcement.

"It's going to be interesting, come 5 o'clock, what they're going to say," said 97.1 The Ticket's Jeff Riger, of a planned presser. He added: "I heard he was happy here."

Avila, 57, brings a wealth of baseball experience to the Tigers' general manager position, the team said, including the last 24 years at the Major League level.  In June 1992, he joined the Florida Marlins as the assistant director of Latin American operations after a four-year stint as the director of athletics and head coach of the baseball team at St. Thomas (FL) University.

Over his 14 seasons in Detroit, Avila has assisted in player development, overseen the amateur and international scouting staffs, and has been instrumental in the day-to-day formation of the club's roster through signings, trades and major personnel decisions.

He played an integral role in the trade that brought two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera to Detroit in December 2007.  He was also highly influential in Cabrera inking a long-term extension to stay with the team in 2014.  Avila's familiarity with current Tigers All-Star outfielder J.D. Martinez led to the club signing Martinez upon his release from the Houston Astros in March 2014.

"Al Avila is a true baseball man," Ilitch added.  "He's been involved in every facet of the game as a college head coach, scout and executive.  His track record in identifying and developing talent is extremely impressive.  I'm confident that Al will bring his own approach and his own style to the general manager position.  He's worked extremely hard over the course of his career to afford himself this opportunity with the Detroit Tigers."

Avila comes from a deep-rooted baseball family.  His father, Ralph Avila, was a longtime scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and retired as a vice president.  Ralph's career contributions to the game of baseball are recognized at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Al's son, Alex, is a catcher for the Tigers.  Al and his wife, Yamile, have two other children, Alan and Annelisa Marie.

This comes immediately in the wake of Dombrowski overseeing a series of high-profile trades, including David Price and Yoenis Cespedes. Here are some of Dombrowski's best moves from the off-season.


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