Tommy Lasorda has been part of our family for a long time. He's known me since I was born. It's very special to have him in my career and in my life. It's great to have a relationship with him, and I feel fortunate in that regard.

The relationship with Tommy started with my grandfather, Ralph, who worked for the Dodgers for a long time. My grandfather and Tommy became close friends over that time. My dad is also friends with Tommy.

I don't know if anyone loves baseball more than Tommy. It is his passion. I haven't come across many people -- if any -- who are more passionate about baseball than Tommy. And he is such an icon when it comes to the Dodgers. I don't believe you can talk about the Dodgers without thinking about Tommy. He's always said that he has Dodger Blue in his veins.

I was fortunate that I grew up in a baseball family. Having him around and growing up in baseball clubhouses has been very influential on me. I've learned a lot from my dad and my grandfather. When I was very young, I used to go to Vero Beach for Spring Training when Tommy was managing. That was around the time Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi and Todd Hollandsworth were just coming up. It was great. Any time they came to play the Marlins, we were there.

Now that I am in the big leagues, it is great when he is able to come and watch me play. We played at Dodger Stadium the last two years, and he has come out to Angel Stadium when we've visited them. He has also caught a few of our games in Chicago.

He's always fun to have around. And if you go out to lunch, there is always a lot of food and a lot of good stories. He is a great storyteller, and I love to hear him tell his stories over and over again.

Tigers catcher Alex Avila played an instrumental role in Detroit's American League Central division title this year. He hit 18 homers and drove in 82 runs.