Inge to compete for job at second base
Brandon Inge is going to get a chance to compete for a spot in the Tigers lineup after all. It just won’t be at third base.
Inge has asked the Tigers for a chance to compete for the one relatively open infield spot — at second base. Manager Jim Leyland revealed the news Thursday upon his arrival at Joker Marchant Stadium, and said he’s going to give Inge his shot.
It’s a move seemingly out of left field rather than the infield, but it’s a chance for Inge to hold onto a starting spot and play a significant role on a team that’s favored to win the American League Central and compete for a pennant.
The original request, Leyland said, came from Inge to team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who forwarded it to Leyland.
“I said I’m all for it. Absolutely,” Leyland said. “I’ll pay you that respect. If you want to compete for the second base job, compete for it. How it’s going to play out, I have no idea. So there’s some wrinkles in here that are pretty interesting.”
This is one wrinkle few saw coming. While Inge has played at third base, catcher and all three outfield spots over his 11-year Major League career, and was a standout shortstop and closer in college at Virginia Commonwealth, he has never played second base in a game. He worked out there in Spring Training years ago, but only in anticipation of superutility duty.
He’ll get a crash course this spring. Leyland said he plans on having Inge take the vast majority of his playing time at second along with Ryan Raburn.
“I know Inge can play third base in his sleep,” Leyland said, “so I’m going to focus him on nothing but second base. Later in the spring, depending on how everything looks, we’ll play him at third once in a while just to sharpen him up.
“But I’m going all-out on this second-base thing. We’ll give him an opportunity.”