February 27th, 2010

Inge ahead of schedule (surprise)

Nobody can really be surprised that Brandon Inge is trying to beat the timetable that would have him and his surgically repaired knees playing in Spring Training games by mid-March. He’s just that kind of athlete, and he gets that bored sitting around.

What might be surprising, though, are the reports that he’s hitting well. The bad habits he developed at the plate down the stretch last year to compensate for his knees were relatively easy to shake, Inge said, because they all involved his lower body rather than his hands.

He might get a chance to practice that hitting sooner than his fielding. Manager Jim Leyland said there’s a chance Inge could get some games at DH before he plays at third base.

“He has that foundation and everything. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Leyland said of any bad habits in Inge’s hitting mechanics.

Inge agreed. He said he fought off an inside pitch that would’ve troubled him late last year, and he knew then that his lower body strength was back.

Leyland is already dreading the question over how many games Inge will play once the regular season arrives. His knees beg the debate over how often to rest him, but as Leyland readily points out, Inge wants to play every game.

“I can tell you he’s not going to play every game,” Leyland said, “but he goes bananas when he doesn’t play.”

More from today:

  • Interesting that Leyland says they have three starters set, rather than four, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fourth spot is up for grabs. If Jeremy Bonderman remains healthy and has even a decent spring, that slot is his. Of all the high-contract, low-production starters, he’s in a little different position than Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis.
  • Rain forced the Tigers to work out indoors Saturday morning. That meant no live BP, with hitters swinging in the cages instead. Pitchers still got in their scheduled throwing work.
  • Leyland said he’s still debating what kind of lineup to trot out against Florida Southern in their annual exhibition next Tuesday. He usually has started his regulars and gotten them an at-bat before taking them out. But don’t expect Leyland to hold out Scott Sizemore for injury reasons. If he can’t play against Florida Southern, Leyland said, then he can’t play against Toronto the next day.
  • Jose Valverde will out of camp for a few days due to a death in his family.
  • Leyland said Justin Verlander has not paid up from their friendly PFP competition. “Nah, I’ll let him off the hook,” Leyland said. “He’s hurting a little bit for money now.”