July 13th, 2009
As soon as Brandon Inge got onto the podium for the HR derby press conference this morning, you could tell he was looking around.
“Man, you should see the monsters I was sitting with in the Home Run Derby [news conference],” Inge told Edwin Jackson later with reporters around.
He was still marveling about that a few minutes later.
“I’m going to have fun. Come on, look at me. I mean, seriously,” Inge said. “I might set a record for the smallest Home Run Derby contestant ever.”
He was already having fun about it hours before the Derby even started.
“I love it,” he said. “David and Goliath. That’s my favorite. As small as I am, it’s funny too, because my whole life I’ve been the littlest guy. And everybody comes up [and asks], ‘How do you hit the ball so stinking far?'”
Believe it or not, Inge has been in a home-run derby before. It was in the 2000 Southern League All-Star Game in Greenville, SC. Somehow he got in, though he hit just six homers in 58 games with Double-A Jacksonville that year before being promoted to Toledo.
He learned two lessons from that experience. The first was that taking batting practice without a cage is a strange feeling.
“Anyone who hasn’t even hit inside of a cage would probably [ask] why does that make a difference,” Inge said. “But when you hit for, say, since ’98 or even before that every time to take batting practice, the majority of swings in my life have had some sort of cage over top. So once you move that cage, you just kind feel a little naked. It feels strange.”
Another lesson was to hit better pitches, and hit them early.
“I went 0-fer my first nine. Let me tell you about the pressure on that last pitch. I think I hit the farthest ball that was hit in that thing. I finally got one.”
We’ll see what happens in his latest chance.