Results tagged ‘ Brandon Inge ’

Tigers acquire Betemit for two prospects

The Tigers remain on the lookout for a starting pitcher on the trade market, but they decided they couldn’t wait any longer to find some offense at third base. Detroit swung a deal Wednesday to add veteran infielder Wilson Betemit from Kansas City for prospects Antonio Cruz and Julio Rodriguez.

The move fills a void at the hot corner, where Brandon Inge’s struggles — first with mononucleosis, then with his bat and energy level since — had become a lingering issue. It also puts Brandon Inge’s future as the longest-tenured current Tiger into question.

“We like Betemit,” Dombrowski said. “We feel like he upgrades us at third base at this time. We’re in a position where, you know, we’ve scuffled offensively at that spot.”

Once a highly-touted infield prospect with the Braves, Betemit has found a fit as a corner infielder with some pop, bouncing around teams. His .297 averagewith 20 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 84 games last year with Kansas City helped him find a fit there.

That put the 29-year-old Betemit in a position to get a good share of playing time with the Royals at the start of this season. However, he was a placeholder for Royals third-base prospect Mike Moustakas. Once Kansas City called him up last month, Betemit was out of a role.

Betemit batted .281 (57-for-203) this year with 15 doubles, three homers and 27 RBIs. His .750 OPS is 139 points lower than last year, but higher than in any season since 2007.

By comparison, five different Tigers had combined at third base for a .186 average, a .500 OPS, two home runs, 27 RBIs and 79 strikeouts in 334 at-bats.

“He has swung the bat well the last couple years with Kansas City,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a very solid third baseman. He’s got a good arm over there, probably a little bit better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter, but he is a switch-hitter and he’s got pop on both sides of the plate. He puts fear in us any time he comes to the plate, can drive in a run.

“He’s going to be hitting at the bottom of the lineup, so it’s a spot where all of a sudden you have a guy like that down below that can add, from an offensive perspective, we feel good about that.”

He’ll get a good share of at-bats to build on those numbers in Detroit.

Betemit is working on a one-year contract worth $1 million for the season.

Dombrowski hinted that they had been working on other options at third base. Those options dried up, though, and with Inge’s 0-for-4 game Wednesday dropping his average to .177 on the season, the Tigers made their move.

“It’s a tough situation,” Dombrowski said. “Brandon has done a lot for the organization. We would not have signed him this winter if we didn’t think he was going to come out and he was going to do very well for us, or do solidly. We never projected him to be a .300 hitter, but thought he’s come out and be a guy that could hit .230 or .240 with some home runs and play real good defense and maybe drive in runs. It hasn’t happened this year, and I think we’re at the point where playing him every day, we just don’t see it happening right now.”

The aforementioned contract was a two-year, $11.5 million deal signed last November, which plays a big role in any decision the Tigers make on Inge. Judging from Dombrowski’s remarks, it appears contracts played a role in the Tigers’ trade options as well.

“It’s just come to a point where it’s decision time in the sense that you get to July 31 and you may not be able to make a move,” Dombrowski said. “I was talking to a couple other clubs, but one primarily about a third baseman that isn’t going to go anywhere, so really your choices at third base are really limited if you’re going to do something. So we didn’t want to get caught where we were sitting there and you come to July 31 and all of a sudden you say, ‘Well, he’s still scuffling at this point, what do we do at this time?” It was the right time to make the move and Kansas City was willing to do it.”

Betemit is scheduled to join the team on Thursday in Minnesota, where the Tigers will open a four-game series against the Twins. Dombrowski said they’ll add Betemit to the active roster then. They have the room on the 40-man roster to fit him, but they’ll have to take somebody off the 25-man roster to create space.

Dombrowski also deferred questions about Inge’s future role on the team to Thursday.

Inge reinstated from DL, Worth optioned

The question about Brandon Inge’s return from the disabled list (as mentioned in last post) didn’t last long. The Tigers announced this morning that Inge is being recalled from his minor-league rehab assignment and activated from the 15-day DL today. Danny Worth is optioned to Triple-A Toledo to make roster room.

There had been some question whether Inge might get in one more game with the Mud Hens to get ready for his return. And while Jim Leyland said Wednesday he assumed something would happen with Inge in the near future, there was nothing more announced before the Tigers headed back east Wednesday night. Today’s move means Inge will not rehab with the Hens tonight.

No news about Inge’s role accompanied the transaction. Leyland said Wednesday he has a plan with Inge, and that team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is believed to be on board, but cautioned that it wasn’t final yet.

Inge to go on rehab with Mud Hens

While the Tigers are out west for Interleague Play over the next week, Brandon Inge will be on the road for International League play (see what I did there) with the Mud Hens in Louisville and Columbus. The Tigers confirmed Thursday morning that Inge is headed out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

Inge, who went on the 15-day DL two weeks ago with mono, had said earlier in the week that he wanted to come back as soon as he was ready. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but he said he thought better of it once he picked up his activity level beyond batting practice and infield work.

“I know usually I want to come back as fast as I can, and I still do,” Inge said. “But after working out the first two days, I realized I need to go, because it’s different. It’s like once you have to do something physical, it’s a different type of tired. I think I need to let my body get back into the daily grind.”

In other words, Inge needs to get into baseball shape again. He’ll serve as the designated hitter tonight at Louisville and then start playing at third base. The plan is for him to play six games.

Meanwhile, it sounds like Jim Leyland will be following through on his idea to use Alex Avila at third base with the Tigers to help survive the next week without the DH. Leyland said he’s considering starting Avila at third Friday night at Colorado.

Tigers meet after Sunday’s loss

Compared to the news overnight, the day-to-day dealings of a baseball team are minutiae. Still, it’s my job to chronicle it. So if you’ve been looking for some emotion from the Tigers over the course of their slow start, then Sunday’s game was it.

While Jim Leyland talked in his office with reporters after Sunday’s 5-4 loss in Cleveland, the doors to the clubhouse were closed, something that rarely if ever happens after games. A few of the voices inside were loud enough to be heard in Leyland’s office down the hall. The door slamming after one exchange could easily be heard.

Once the doors opened, it was a very subdued, quiet clubhouse, with players and coaches inside. At one point, Brandon Inge and Alex Avila were talking with Joaquin Benoit, who took the loss Sunday with a three-run eighth inning.

Not sure whether it could be called a closed-door meeting, or a session, or a reaction to something else. One player indicated it wasn’t something as formal as a meeting. Suffice to say, it was not a pep rally.

Nobody went into details on what was said.

“It’s good,” Inge said. “It’s one of those [things] I think can unite the team. We’re good, anyway, but I think we’ll be better in the long run for it.”

Said Avila: “After the game, doors are closed. It’s just us, and we’ve just got to figure things out.”

Leyland didn’t say anything about what was going on inside, though the commotion could be heard ongoing while he talked. When asked what he can say to players during struggles like this, though, without putting too much attention on the struggles, his remarks hinted at something.

“All you can do is try to relax guys as much as you can,” Leyland said. “That’s what you try to do. And then at some point, you have to say something else. I mean, all you can do is support them. But at some point, you have to step up. That’s just the way it is.”

Messing with Texas: CoPa factor plays again?

Inge (right) celebrates walkoff homer with Miguel Cabrera (Getty Images)Interesting point from Brandon Inge after Wednesday’s win when talking about the Rangers offense cooling off following its fast start over the previous nine games. He gave credit to the pitching staff, and he also gave credit to the ballpark.

To him, there’s a Comerica Park factor going on. And when you consider the home-road disparity that has been going on with this team since at least last year and maybe earlier, it’s worth consideration.

“These guys have been swinging hot bats,” Inge said. “This is where our ballpark plays in our favor a lot. A team like that coming in swinging hot bats, they had three or four balls hit in the last two or three games that probably would’ve been home runs in their ballpark, and that would’ve given them momentum and they would’ve just kept running the bases and putting runs up. But they don’t go out, and those guys now are scratching their heads when they come back in the dugout.

“Our pitchers have more confidence knowing they can go up in the zone and get outs, and you can see where the momentum transfers back over to us. A lot of people complain about this park, but it’s a big park, and both teams have to play in it.”

Ryan Raburn, of course, had the catch to take away a home run. Texas had a double off the right-field wall in the series opener and another that hit the wall on a hop. They had countless others that took Austin Jackson towards the warning track in center field.

The stats suggest this park plays pretty even over the course of a season. But it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest maybe this park plays a little diffferently before it warms up than it does during the summer.

As for both sides playing in it, Inge says he has talked with new Tiger Victor Martinez about the ballpark factor.

“Victor, he has hit a couple balls [that would've been out elsewhere],” Inge said. “But you know what, it’s not really a bad thing if you embrace it. Hopefully he’ll understand that coming into it. I’ve tried to talk to him a few times. I told him there’s a lot of RBIs to be had in these gaps right here. And that’s where we’re going to win ballgames.

“We’re not here for personal stats. No one should be here for personal stats. And if you get runners on base in this ballpark, and if you can swallow your pride and understand that your home run numbers are probably going to come down a little bit but you can get just as many RBIs by those gaps, it’s just a matter of understanding it and letting it happen.”

On a side note, I’ll be off for the next few days before rejoining the team in Seattle. I’ll be watching the Oakland games on TV and might chime in with a post now and then, but it won’t be the daily lineups and routines that I usually have. Please excuse me while I finally unpack some of the last items in the suitcase from the road.

Saturday: Tigers at Yankees

Had a great off-day in New York, capped by an evening watching the play “Lombardi.” Wonderful performance, very well-acted. Time to get back to work.

As expected, Brennan Boesch gets the start in left. Inge moves down to ninth. Other than that, pretty standard lineup.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Brennan Boesch, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Brad Penny

YANKEES

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Jorge Posada, DH
  8. Curtis Granderson, CF
  9. Russell Martin, C

P: A.J. Burnett

Friday: Tigers at Braves

When Brandon Inge batted ninth last night, Leyland wasn’t really saying much about where he might bat in the lineup come regular season. There’s a point of view, there’s an advantage of having someone with at least some speed — not great speed by any means, but still better than Alex Avila — batting at the bottom of the order. That’s something Jim Leyland has talked about in the past.

It doesn’t really apply today, since the Braves wouldn’t agree to use the DH. Thus, the pitcher’s spot is open, which could make it interesting if Leyland wants to get Adam Wilk, Enrique Gonzalez, Brayan Villarreal and Daniel Schlereth multiple innings each. Some pitcher might get to stand at the plate and hold the bat.
TIGERS
  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Brandon Inge, 3B
  9. Adam Wilk, P
BRAVES
  1. Alex Gonzalez, SS
  2. Jason Heyward, RF
  3. Chipper Jones, 3B
  4. Dan Uggla, 2B
  5. Eric Hinske, 1B
  6. David Ross, C
  7. Joe Mather, LF
  8. Matt Young, CF
  9. Brandon Beachy, P

Day 3 notes: Furbush makes early impression

Charlie Furbush didn’t come into camp with nearly the hype of fellow Tigers pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver. But he comes in with a massive strikeout total, a very deceptive delivery and a good reputation.

He has the manager’s attention.

“I’m real interested to see him,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday morning. “I got a very interesting report on him from somebody who’s not with the Tigers, how much progress he’s made in the last year or so.”

Leyland talked quite a bit about Furbush this morning — not really as a guy fighting to make the team out of this camp, but as one of the young starters trying to put himself in a position for an in-season call-up if injuries or other issues force the Tigers to dip into the farm system for another starter.

They are not looking at him at this point as a lefty reliever, Leyland indicated.

“I think we’re focusing on him as a starting pitcher,” Leyland said. “That’s what he’s been, and we’re thinking along those lines.”

If Furbush isn’t among the lefty relief candidates, that reduces the pool a bit. Daniel Schlereth is obviously a big part of it, as is long reliever Brad Thomas. The other lefties in camp include non-roster  guys Fu-Te Ni, Adam Wilk and John Bale.

But it also puts a little more depth into the Tigers’ starting ranks. Detroit’s insurance starters appeared limited to Oliver and Turner, barring a spot start or two from Thomas, but Leyland emphasized they have some depth.

“We think we’ve got more depth than a lot of people think we have,” Leyland said.

Other notes:

  • Leyland said he went into the weight room to get in a morning workout around 7 am. He found Brad Penny already into his workout. “He’s working his [tail] off,” Leyland said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re a young guy yet.'”
  • Justin Verlander said today he’s going to be tough on himself in his bullpen sessions and game outings this spring as he tries to get himself ready for his best form in April. Physically, his offseason and springs workouts haven’t been any different, but his mental preparation and focus are way different.
  • Brandon Inge isn’t in camp yet, but there’s a present waiting on his chair in the clubhouse. Somebody found one of his old chest protectors (it has his name on it) from his catching days and put it on there with a note: “Pudge wanted to make sure you had gear this year. Just in case!”
  • One good piece of news about Phil Coke’s conversion to starting: It should be a little safer for fans in the stands. One teammate suggested Coke led the Majors in long toss overthrows into the seats. Coke counted three fans he hit by accident.

Tigers shut out on Gold Gloves

There’s a belief out there that once a player is among the best at his position, it usually takes him an extra year or two after that to be recognized for it with a Gold Glove award. It’s just that difficult for new candidates to get into the thought process of coaches and managers. So even if Tigers rookie Austin Jackson deserved recognition for his defense in center field this year, he wasn’t going to get it.

And he didn’t. Nor did any of the Tigers, who were shut out on Gold Gloves for the second time in three years.

With Gerald Laird’s numbers down this year, Jackson and Brandon Inge were the two Tigers with any sort of chance this year. Inge really didn’t have that much of a chance, the way Evan Longoria handled the hot corner this season. Fittingly, one of the defensive highlights MLB Network showed for Longoria tonight was the double play he started against the Tigers back in July at Tropicana Field, the play that left Inge and Jim Leyland marveling.

As for Jackson, again, he’s a rookie, and while his over-the-shoulder catches gave him some much-deserved highlight time, they didn’t give him enough votes. There were two first-time winners among AL outfielders, but it was Carl Crawford and Franklin Gutierrez, who joined mainstay Ichiro Suzuki.

Gutierrez has built his reputation over the last couple years as a great center fielder ever since joining the Mariners from Cleveland, where he was stuck in a corner spot with former Gold Glove winner Grady Sizemore entrenched in center. If Jackson can build off this past season with improvements in some areas — he had a couple late-season lapses — you wonder if he could break into the group.

Inge nominated for Marvin Miller Man of the Year

Brandon Inge, fresh off his two-year contract extension signed Thursday, has a chance to become the second consecutive Tiger to win the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award. The MLB Players Association named Inge as one of the three finalists for the honor, which is awarded to the player whose contributions on and off the field inspire others to achieve.

The award is part of the MLB Players Choice awards, which gives out end-of-season honors as voted on by big-league players. The Tigers are well-represented among the various lists of finalists, from Miguel Cabrera for American League Outstanding Player to Austin Jackson for AL Outstanding Rookie. Winners will be announced next week.

While Inge doesn’t attract attention with a lot of his charitable efforts around Metro Airport, he’s in a unique position to earn some recognition as Man of the Year. His work with Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor has long been known to Michiganders, including a generous donation to help add an activity room for the hospital’s cancer ward.

It’s work that has always hit close to home with Inge, a father of two. But for him and his wife, Shani, it’s literally close to home now, having moved to Michigan full-time.

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski noted Inge’s meaning to the community when he talked about his new deal Thursday.

“Some things that they do sometimes get a lot of publicity,” Dombrowski said, “but a lot of times they do it very quickly. And when you can have people in our organization do that, it’s an added plus and something that means so much to a community.”
 
Inge has a chance to follow in the footsteps of former Tiger Curtis Granderson, who won the award last year. To do so, though, he’ll have to draw more votes from his peers than popular Angels outfielder Torii Hunter and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Hunter created the Torii Hunter Project as a partnership with the Little League Urban Initiative to help save baseball diamonds in America’s inner cities. Tulowitzki serves as the national spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology’s Play Sun Smart program, encouraging skin cancer awareness and prevention.
 

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