Backup catcher Brayan Pena started Friday night at Yankee Stadium against New York.
Tigers Jim Leyland said Avila got medical clearance to play. Avila said he was available if needed as the AL Central leaders tried to extend their 12-game winning streak.
Avila was struck in the fourth inning Thursday night at Cleveland and exited the next inning. He returned to Detroit overnight to get checked for a possible concussion and took a flight to New York on Friday afternoon.
Avila arrived at Yankee Stadium about 2 1/2 hours before the scheduled start. An All-Star in 2011, he is hitting .198 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs this season.