Results tagged ‘ Brandon Inge ’

Inge-sanity in quotes

Lots of reactions from both clubhouse to Brandon Inge’s last couple nights against his old team. Here’s a sampling, bolding by me:

Inge on this stretch: “The way I was last year and early this year, it seemed like when I got good wood on the ball, it went right at somebody. There is a flip side, that things usually should balance out. I know things don’t go like this all the time, so you do the best you can to stay level-headed. It’s a crazy game. Ups and downs.”

Inge on new hitting coach Chili Davis: “I don’t like thinking about my mechanics whatsoever. I just like to get in the box, feel comfortable and let my batting practice and everything I’ve worked on take over in the game. He’s been great about that. He’s basically let me go. A good bit of information here and there just to keep me on track but more so on approach than anything else. That’s what I like. He and I mix well.”

Inge on facing old teammates: “It’s such a mixed emotional feeling, it’s hard to explain. I want to do well and I want to hit the ball. Every time I get in the box, my mindset is to take a good swing and basically smash the ball, hammer the ball somewhere. But right after it’s done, it’s like, ‘Man, these are my buddies I just messed up a little bit.’ … I’m happy because I’m having fun.”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland: “We threw him a lot of strikes, and he’s really swinging well right now. He’s got a second wind and it’s a good thing obviously for him. He’s swinging the bat as good as I’ve seen him swing it for a while. We probably didn’t expand the zone enough, but he’s in a pretty good groove right now.”

Tigers catcher Gerald Laird: “We figured he’d be locked in this series. I mean, he’s a competitor. He got released by this organization and he feels like he has something to prove. That’s the nature of the game. He’s a competitor. We left some pitches out over the middle of the plate and he didn’t miss.”

Tigers infielder Danny Worth: “He’s swinging well. He’s hitting balls hard both sides of the field. He’s looking good up there.”

A’s outfielder Josh Reddick: “What else can he do? He’s been great. I don’t know what the guys across the way were thinking when they let him go, but we’re happy to have him here and happy to have him swinging the bat like he is.”

Inge completes rehab assignment in Toledo

It appears that Brandon Inge will be activated from the disabled list when he’s eligible on Saturday. With the Mud Hens going on the road for the next eight days, Inge started at second base and went 0-for-3 before confirming to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade that he’ll rejoin the Tigers in Chicago.

Wagner’s full recap on Inge’s night, including a pair of difficult plays at second base, is available here.

“I had a couple of plays running both ways,” Inge told The Blade. “Once I covered those, there really wasn’t anything else [to test]. I had a couple plays backwards, and I’m happy where I am right now.”

At the plate, Inge went 0-for-3 with two walks on the night, and 1-for-9 over his three-game stint.

“The timing will come back,” Inge told The Blade. “I’m not worried about the results right now. When you’re going through a rehab, getting timing, seeing the pitches and drawing walks is important. I really didn’t get many good pitches to hit. They weren’t throwing me much — which was kind of funny.”

Inge will physically rejoin the Tigers in Chicago on Friday ahead of their Saturday afternoon game, which starts at 4 p.m. ET. Once the Tigers activate Inge, he’s expected to assume a platoon role at second base, starting against some but not all left-handed pitchers.

Inge out with sore groin

As recently as Friday morning, Brandon Inge was on the travel roster for Friday’s trip to Sarasota to face the Orioles. But when the Tigers were taking batting practice before the game, Inge wasn’t out there. This time of year, an absence like that — especially a player with as much speculation surrounding him as Inge — creates suspicion.

In this case, manager Jim Leyland said it’s an injury situation. Inge supposedly had a sore groin that he tweaked trying to run out Thursday night’s game-ending double play.

“He had a little groin [injury] last night. That’s why he didn’t come,” Leyland said. “He was getting treated all day. That last ball of the game, running to first, coming out of the box, he felt it a little bit. But I don’t think it’s anything serious. It didn’t appear to be, but it was a little sore, so I scratched him from the trip.”

The Tigers have another road trip Saturday, this time to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for a game against the Braves. Every position player except Delmon Young is on the travel roster for that one, but we’ll see Saturday morning if Inge makes the trip.

Game 18: What’s next for Tigers at third base

Jim Leyland’s answer to the question of how he’ll handle third base while Miguel Cabrera is out lasted five words.

“I’ve got plenty of coverage,” he said Tuesday morning.

That he does. Between Danny Worth, Don Kelly, Audy Ciriaco and yes, Brandon Inge, Leyland has no shortage of guys who can play over there this spring. Who he plays will likely say a lot about how long the Tigers expect Cabrera to be out.

Inge has had a ton of playing time at second base this season to try to get him acclimated, with surprisingly good results. The Tigers and Leyland have made it abundantly clear that Cabrera is the third baseman now, a message that has grown stronger as Spring Training has unfolded and Cabrera has more than held his own at the hot corner. It would seem unlikely the Tigers will move Inge back to third unless they have to — in other words, if they have a reason to believe that Cabrera would miss time at the start of the season.

If they had to make an adjustment on the fly, they could get Inge ready at third with very little lead-in time. As Leyland said early this spring, Inge could play third in his sleep. So the idea of Inge needing time as an insurance policy doesn’t really hold in this situation.

So while Cabrera is out, the biggest impact could be on Kelly, getting more time at third to fill Grapefruit League innings and more at-bats to get himself ready, as well as Worth, who has been trying to make his case as an extra infielder for some time now. It also could keep Ciriaco in camp a little longer, continuing what has been a decent spring for him.

What we learned: While Ryan Raburn and Delmon Young have been belting balls all spring, the common refrain has been that they’ve been feasting on early spring pitching, when hurlers are usually focusing on their fastballs and rarely mixing in their good secondary pitches. Raburn’s sixth home run of the spring came on a breaking ball from Jair Jurrjens, whose rough spring continued. Young’s ball came on a pitch with more velocity on it.

Either way, their hitting is starting to outgrow the early spring training phrase.

“I don’t know how to explain it. It just seems like Delmon and Raburn get a good pitch to hit, they hit it pretty hard and a lot of times pretty far,” Leyland said. “But I don’t really know how to explain it.”

Hey, it’s only spring training: Justin Verlander said Tuesday was his first real jam in which he had the situation to try to gear up his fastball. He got it up to 96 mph on the radar gun at Joker Marchant Stadium, maybe another tick on other scouting guns.

“The velocity was getting up there, and that’s the first time it’s done that,” Verlander said. “A little harder to control for me, but the more I do it, the better it’ll get.”

At some point, that fastball will gear up to the upper 90s. It’s not there yet, but that’s not something he’s trying to get there at this point in the spring.

The highlight play you saw: Not really a highlight, but you saw a lot of the Lakeland grounds crew working on the mound. Both Verlander and Jurrjens pointed around their landing spots on the front of the dirt.

“It caused a little bit of issues,” Verlander said. “I felt like that might have led to some of the walks. A couple walks, I was slipping a little bit. Obviously, it was a bit more of a problem for Jair than it was for myself.”

At one point between innings, they were both around the mound looking at the trouble spot.

“I was telling him he was doing it, and he was telling me I was doing it, creating that big old hole,” Verlander said. “But I don’t create much of a hole when I pitch, if any of a hole. That’s what I was telling him. … It was weird, because I think them fixing it might have caused more a problem for him, because then his original hole wasn’t there anymore. That’s when he started slipping, I think.”

Up next: With the Tigers scheduled for their lone off-day of the spring on Thursday, they juggled their rotation a bit for Wednesday. Andy Oliver moves up a day to make the start against the Twins at 1:05pm at Marchant Stadium, putting him in a pretty good test that also happens to be the first broadcast of the spring for Fox Sports Detroit. Rick Porcello will pitch in a minor-league game earlier.

To-do list for Wednesday: Stretch out Oliver and get a look at how Twins hitters react to him the second and, maybe in a couple cases, third time into the order. He probably won’t get deep into a third turn, not with a pitch limit around 75 or so, but guys will get a chance to adjust from their first at-bats.

Leyland on Inge: “He’s not the happiest camper”

Four years ago, Miguel Cabrera was a man on the move, and Brandon Inge was man without a position, hoping to find a starting job somewhere. The trade that was expected that winter never happened, and Inge ended up back at third base.

Now, the Tigers and Inge might be back in the same spot.

Because Miguel Cabrera was the only player given a heads-up about the signing, Inge found out about being replaced through the media, not the team. Manager Jim Leyland said he finally talked with Inge Thursday once the signing was official.

“I basically apologized [to him] that this got out on the airwaves obviously prior to us wanting it to,” Leyland said. “I’m sorry he had to hear it other than from the horse’s mouth, but at that particular time, I was not at any liberty to discuss this whatsoever.

“I have talked with Brandon. He’s not the happiest camper. We certainly understand. We try to deal with these issues as we’re supposed to be.”

Leyland suggested there still could be a role for Inge on the team. He had Inge penciled in for some starts at third when Cabrera’s DHing or off. He did not indicate any change of positions for Inge.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said he has not talked with Inge yet, or his agents. If Inge wants a trade or release, he hasn’t heard about it. At this point, he isn’t preparing to make a move.

“I can understand he wouldn’t be thrilled,” Dombrowski said, “but I also think at this point, probably the best thing for him to do — he’s not coming off a big year, the market is pretty well set — probably the best thing is to let him come to spring training, let him play well and let’s see what happens. I think he still can play a very important role on our club. Like I said, we’re trying to win.

“I respect his situation. We’ll do what we can. We’ll see what happens, but I think he’s a very important part of our club. He is in good shape, and he’s worked hard, and I think he’s got a chance to put up some nice numbers this year.”

Inge has $6 million in guaranteed money this year — $5.5 million in salary, plus a $500,000 buyout assuming the Tigers don’t pick up his $6 million option for 2013. The Tigers were willing to eat that money last summer when they designated him for assignment for make room for Wilson Betemit. Inge accepted a minor-league assignment after some encouragement from Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

On the other hand, if Miguel Cabrera’s move to third base doesn’t work out — remember, the Tigers moved him out of third a few weeks into the 2008 season — the Tigers would then need a third baseman. If Inge is gone, the Tigers’ best option at third is Don Kelly. So even if the Tigers could find another team for Inge, or could afford to eat his contract, they have a motivation not to. He’s an insurance policy, or Plan B, or the fallback option, whatever term you want to use.

On a semi-related note, Dombrowski was asked whether Cabrera’s move to third makes top position prospect Nick Castellanos, one of the top third base prospects in the game, expendable? Dombrowski said no.

“We’re in a position where you just take your time with him,” Dombrowski said. “He’s at third base. He’s a tremendous player. He’s going to be a tremendous player. We’re not looking to trade him. He’s just made the [MLB.com] Top 100 players prospectwise along with [Jacob] Turner and [Drew] Smyly.

“So for me, it’s just really a matter of you want to have young players. A guy like Castellanos will be a fine big-league player. He’ll fit in great eventually.”

Getting the picture here?

Betemit’s knee flares up again, not ready yet

UPDATE: Team doctors examined Betemit later Monday afternoon. According to Betemit, everything was fine aside from the inflammation. He’s hoping for good news Tuesday.

Wilson Betemit came to Comerica Park early on Monday with a plan to start at third base, his first start in a week and a half. It was supposed to be his first of three games to get ready for the postseason. Then he tried to push off with his left knee moving for a ball.

Now, his situation is a question mark once again, and his manager is increasingly concerned.

“He’s not right,” Leyland said. “I’m worried about Betemit. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Betemit sounded a little less concerned as he tried to clear up his own situation, but nonetheless anxious. He played in three straight Division Series with the Braves and Dodgers from 2004-06, and he has a very good chance to start for the Tigers in this one coming up. But he has to be healthy to do it.

He thought he was. Right now, he said, his knee’s “so-so.”

“I went out today to go work on the field,” Betemit said. “and I felt something push on my knee.”

Betemit was diagnosed a week ago with inflammation in the knee after injuring it on a slide Sept. 16 at Oakland. He still has swelling on the inside of the knee, which is where he felt the problem when he went to push off. He also feels discomfort, he said, when he goes into an all-out sprint. He feels fine when he’s batting.

“Hopefully I’ll be fine,” Betemit said, “because, man, I want to play. I have to do everything I can to play.”

With Betemit out, Don Kelly started at third base for the third time in the last four days and the fifth time in Detroit’s last eight games. Cleveland has right-handed pitchers starting every game in this series to end the regular season, so it’s uncertain whether Brandon Inge, Detroit’s defensive replacement and part-time starter at third, might get a start.

Once the postseason begins, that question becomes a lot more interesting, depending on the opponent. The Yankees, for instance, are expected to start lefty CC Sabathia to open their Division Series, then have a handful of right-handed candidates.

Leyland is keeping pretty mum on his postseason roster, and he isn’t going to map out how the Tiger would replace Betemit if he can’t go. While team officials met Monday to discuss the roster, among other topics, they didn’t announce anything. Kelly could be a big part of it, but dedicating him to third base would also take a candidate out of right field. The Tigers also have infielder Danny Worth, but he has played all of four innings at third base this month since rejoining the club from Triple-A Toledo.

Breaking down the fielder’s choice

To Brandon Inge, second base was the only option on Elliot Johnson’s ground ball, as you might have heard already.

“It’s very cut-and-dry: A ball hit to the left of you, you go to second base,” Inge said. “A ball hit dead at you, if you have the time, you go step on third, or go across the infield. But a ball to your left, you go to second base. That’s a fact.”

To manager Jim Leyland, Inge had other options.

“I thought there was an out probably at first, or probably at third,” Leyland said. “But that’s part of the game.”

To Ramon Santiago, he had to cover the bag.

“No doubt about it, I have to cover,” Santiago said. “Bases loaded and nobody covering, [Rodriguez] got a big lead off first. I got there as quickly as I can. It was close, but I think he was out.”

Somewhere in that mix, a potential inning-ending ground ball ended up being a walkoff fielder’s choice. Where that happened is up for debate.

Inge made a quick decision based on where he was positioned and what he saw. Whether he saw where Santiago was positioned when making his throw wasn’t clear. He threw it to the base, but Santiago was behind it and trying to catch up. I didn’t see a replay where Santiago was positioned and when he broke for the bag, but he said it was his immediate thought.

Sean Rodriguez, who beat Santiago to the bag, seemed to lean towards the covering the base part of the play.

“Inge got rid of it pretty good,” Rodriguez said, “but Santiago didn’t get there early enough, because the ball beat me there but he didn’t. His foot didn’t beat me there. … When I went to slide, I knew he wasn’t there yet.”

Regardless, it looks bad for everybody, of course. Inge and Santiago are the defensive options in the platoons at their respective positions. It doesn’t mean either of them are bad defenders, but it didn’t look like good execution. If it was, the game probably continues.

What Inge’s return means for Tigers

Brandon Inge’s return from exile will come a little earlier than expected. Not only will the Tigers purchase his contract from Triple-A Toledo Saturday, they’ll put him in the starting lineup against Indians lefty starter David Huff Saturday night. From there, a very interesting mix at third base is going to unfold for the stretch run.

Jim Leyland made the announcement on the Inge move, and he explained it as this: The Tigers expect to see four or five left-handed starters between now and Sept. 1, when Inge was expected to come up. Inge has been pounding left-handed pitching while with the Mud Hens, 15-for-38 (.395) with three home runs and nine RBIs against lefties when you add in his rehab assignment in June. Yes, those are Triple-A lefties rather than David Price, whom the Tigers are scheduled to face next week. But they’re also signs of a comfort level.

Though Wilson Betemit’s a switch-hitter, his splits are much stronger against righties (.313) than lefties (.238, 34 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances). He also had been giving up starts to Don Kelly for defensive purposes.

Leyland floated the idea Wednesday. He followed through on Friday.

The move to send down Andy Dirks is more procedural than performance. The Tigers can option him out and bring him back Sept. 1 with no problem, and they should might be able to get him eligible for a postseason roster spot if they choose, in case of a player on the DL. And with the slate of lefties they have ahead of them, though Dirks has fared pretty well against southpaws, they’re not going to sit Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young or Magglio Ordonez to get Dirks a spot against them.

Inge could be back in mix at third come September

The topic came up innocently enough, with Jim Leyland asked about Wilson Betemit’s contributions since the trade and his role going forward.

“Probably the ideal situation for us is to mix and match a bit,” Leyland said.

That’s what he has been doing with Betemit, Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn lately. Once rosters expand in September, that could be what he’s doing with Brandon Inge as well.

When the Tigers designated Inge for assignment and later outrighted his contract to Triple-A Toledo, they did it with the understanding that Inge would be back in Detroit once rosters expand Sept. 1, if not sooner. Inge probably would have opted for free agency without that. What role, if any, he would take in September has been more of a question.

Leyland didn’t set it as the plan, but he said Wednesday he’s considering using Inge in the third-base mix against left-handed pitching, as well as for late-inning defense. That could change, but it’s a sign that he’ll be doing more than watching games in uniform.

Inge entered Wednesday batting .316 for the Mud Hens with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 21 games since being outrighted. Granted, it’s against Triple-A pitching, but it’s a sign of encouragement. The numbers against lefties are particularly so, going 15-for-34 (.441) with three homers and nine RBIs.

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.”

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