After two weeks of surviving without key bats in the lineup, the Tigers finally get somebody back. They activated Brandon Inge from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, the first day he was eligible after fracturing his left hand on July 19.
Inge is expected to be in Detroit’s starting lineup at third base Wednesday night against the White Sox at Comerica Park. Jhonny Peralta, the third baseman the Tigers acquired from Cleveland last week to fill in for Inge, could shift over to shortstop or designated hitter.
To make room for Inge on the 25-man roster, the Tigers placed infielder Danny Worth on the 15-day DL with a bruised left heel, an injury he suffered over the weekend but tried to play through.
The move brings back not only a right-handed power bat to the Tigers lineup, but also a key presence on the team. While the Tigers have frequently been starting at least three rookies every night as they try to overcome injuries to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, Inge is the longest-tenured Tiger on the team, dating back to 2001.
His return comes about two weeks earlier than the initial timetable of 4-6 weeks that doctors gave him after he took a Scott Feldman pitch off his hand. Even the optimistic projections, taking into account the fact that Inge would want to be back sooner than expected, had him missing three weeks.
When team doctors checked out Inge’s hand and the fractured fifth metacarpal, however, they found no reason why he couldn’t play ball right now if he was willing to play through pain — if he had any.
“He said he had no soreness whatever,” manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday night. “It’s hard to believe, but they said originally — nobody wanted to mention anything about it — that it could be quite a bit quicker. But they didn’t want to get into that, because it’s normally what it is. But from what I understood, the doctors said it’s healed over extremely well, the calcium’s built up. He would have no more chance of hurting that bone that he would any other bone in his body, if he played.”
Once Inge received that clearance, he began taking batting practice on Monday and said he didn’t feel any pain in his hand. After another round of batting practice Tuesday morning, this time with the team, he received clearance to begin a rehab assignment with low A Class West Michigan.
Inge hit two doubles and drove in a run over his five at-bats. After that, Inge was ready to head back to Detroit.
He returns hoping to reignite the hitting tear he enjoyed in early July. He went 12-for-24 with four doubles, a triple and nine RBIs over a six-game stretch against the Mariners and Orioles before going 0-for-9 against the Twins leading into the break. He went 3-for-13 with an RBI in four games after the All-Star break before breaking his hand.
For the season, Inge is batting .263 with six homers and 40 RBIs.