Inge designated, will accept assignment to Hens
The longest-tenured Tiger is about to become the newest Mud Hen. At least partly, it was his decision.
Dave Dombrowski announced after Wednesday’s loss to Oakland that Detroit will designate Inge’s contract for assignment to make room for Wilson Betemit on the 25-man roster once Betemit joins the team Thursday in Minnesota. Inge, in turn, decided that he’ll accept an assignment to Triple-A Toledo if he clears waivers in the next few days.
Inge’s contract through next season all but guarantees he won’t be claimed. That gave him two choices — go to the Hens, or force the Tigers to release him. He would’ve been a free agent then, with a chance to sign with any team. It’s possible he could’ve found a spot right away — he said he had multiple possibilities — but it was also possible he’d have to start out at Triple-A anyway. This gives him a chance to work his way back with the only team he has known in his Major League career, while also commuting from his Michigan home.
Compared with the previous few weeks, when Inge talked at times about feeling good at the plate and not getting results to show for it, he sounded Wednesday like somebody who needed to get right with what he was doing and wasn’t arguing the decision.
“I’m not contributing, and I don’t want to be responsible for holding the team down, either,” Inge said. “So I need to fix it. That’s the way I look at it. I mean, the unselfish point of view is to look around at the other guys. This team has a great opportunity, and I can contribute, and I can help. If I get back to, say, three-quarters of what I did in ’06 or in ’09, I’m going to help this team out tremendously down the road. So hopefully I can get down there and knock the cobwebs out of there and get rolling.”
In the same sense, he wasn’t blaming the Tigers for making the move.
“They’re looking for options,” Inge said. “They’re looking forw ays to get something done. You have to look at it like a GM sometimes. What they did, I’m not going to knock them. That’s fine. I played with Betemit in the Dominican, and he’s a great guy. Obviously in my mind, I know that I’m the best third baseman when I’m playing well. I’m just going to get ready to come back. I’m not asking for my job to just be handed to me. I’ll go down and I’ll play hard, but I just want that opportunity when I get back. This is still my team.”
Inge’s decision came after what he said was a three-hour conversations with his agent, Keith Miller at ACES. It also followed what Inge said was a message relayed to him from Tigers owner Mike Ilitch through organizational channels.
“He wanted me to stay,” Inge said. “It wasn’t something that was disrepect to me. Obviously, this is not coming from his mouth. This is what was relayed to me, that I meant a lot to this city, state and organization. He just wanted me to go down, get myself right and come back up here.”
Inge said he has a good working relationship with Mud Hens hitting coach Bull Durham, who has been in the organization at least as long as Inge has. He also said the atmosphere in Toledo, where he spent a short rehab assignment last month, should provide a lower-pressure setting for him.
“I actually feel like I’m in a good spot right now,” Inge said. “A lot of times, when you get sent down to Toledo, you get away from all the distractions. And right now, the distractions are when you look at the scoreboard and you see .177 and you don’t concentrate on what you should be doing. A lot of times, when you go down there you realize there’s no TV cameras, there’s not as much pressure, and you get a lot more production.”