Tag: Brandon Inge

Oakland Athletics Starting Infield Predictions for 2013

After a busy offseason for the Oakland A’s, they will fight to retain their standing on top of the American League West.

During said offseason, the A’s have moved around a lot of infielders through addition and subtraction.

Gone are the days of Cliff Pennington at shortstop or second base, after he was traded to Arizona. Stephen Drew is gone as well after being the A’s shortstop down the stretch.  

Another trade split apart the solid first base platoon of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter with Carter being sent to Houston.

Brandon Inge also will not be back in Oakland this year.

With all the departing infielders, who will take their spots rather that be an everyday job or part-time platoon job?

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Brandon Inge Comes Crashing Back to Earth for Oakland Athletics

After Oakland GM Billy Beane scooped Brandon Inge up when the Detroit Tigers released him at the end of April, I wrote a piece titled, “Brandon Inge’s Heroics a Flash in the Pan: Oakland Athletics Need a 3rd Baseman.”

At the time, Inge had 10 hits, 17 RBI, and four home runs in 39 at-bats, including remarkable stretch of four straight games with four RBI. Inge, incredibly, became only the second player in 80 years to have four RBI in four games over a five-game stretch.

The other player to do this? Lou Gehrig.

There he was, in Oakland, seemingly rejuvenated by a change of scenery, and Billy Beane’s moneyball approach seemed to have worked yet again, with a majority of Inge’s $5.5 million salary being picked up by the Tigers.

In my article, I mentioned Inge’s career slash line of: .234/.304/.387 and the fact that in his last season with the Tigers, he batted a mere .197 over 269 at-bats.

Since Inge’s big splash in Oakland and the mania that ensued, he has managed to return to his old self, batting .218 with a .294 OBP. During his time with the A’s, Inge has grounded into seven double plays and struck out 47 times in 165 at-bats. Somehow, his WAR (wins above replacement) managed to stay positive, at 0.4.

A change of scenery can do players good, but in Inge’s case, his history as a poor batter has caught up with him. It’s likely that Inge will simply be another glove in a rotating cast of third basemen for the Athletics.

For what it’s worth, Billy Beane got a deal on a veteran for the clubhouse.

(H/t Baseball-Reference.com for stats)

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Rangers vs. A’s: Brandon Inge Error Sparks 5-Run Rally, Texas Tops Oakland Again

Ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Tom Milone appeared to have an easy first out on a Nelson Cruz grounder to third. Instead, it became the start of a five-run fifth inning as Brandon Inge could not make a play on the ball.

The Rangers would ultimately score two runs on Ian Kinsler’s single, and then the big moment was Josh Hamilton’s 23rd home run, making the score 6-2. Texas would go on to win 7-2, now one game away from a four-game sweep in the series. 

The A’s continued to see promise from Chris Carter, who went 2-for-4, including his second home run in as many games. Inge knocked in the team’s only other run with a single in the fourth, scoring Carter to make it 2-1. But the A’s did not play their best, committing three errors overall and going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Milone took the loss to drop his record to 8-6 on the year. Of the six runs he allowed, only one was earned, a solo home run to Adrian Beltre in the second inning. Brian Fuentes continued to struggle, allowing the final run of the game in seventh inning while again throwing more balls (16) than strikes (15).



Chris Carter. Despite an error at first, it appears as though Carter may be earning a chance to play much more in 2012. As he finally translates that power to the big-league level, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts for the duration of his stint in Oakland. To see him go opposite field for a home run was definitely encouraging.



Brandon Inge. The good thing is he came through with a good at-bat in a run producing situation. The bad thing is his error basically started the A’s implosion in the fifth inning. That is now five errors for Inge on the season, which for him has been all of 49 games. A little too frequent in that department.



Brian Fuentes. It is to the point where the dreaded tag of “gas can” applies to Brian Fuentes. He has no business pitching for the A’s at this point, and only the albatross of his contract keeps him on the big league level. He has no control, not much velocity and a propensity for home runs. Other than that, he’s doing fantastic.

Sunday, the A’s will try to avoid a sweep as Travis Blackley will face of with Texas phenom Yu Darvish. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m.  

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A’s Erase Early Deficit with 6-Run 3rd Inning and Tap the Rockies 8-5

The A’s came back from a four-run first inning and played long ball en route to an 8-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

The longest and largest of the four home runs the A’s hit was by Brandon Moss, who hit a third-deck shot estimated at 461 feet in the third inning to give the A’s the lead for good. Moss would hit two home runs, and both Brandon Inge and Cliff Pennington also went deep. Seth Smith hit a pair of doubles and drove in two RBI on the night, as well.

While Bartolo Colon was not his best, he did settle down after the first inning to keep the Rockies off the board until Todd Helton’s solo homer in the fifth inning. By that time, the A’s were up 7-4. Colon’s line on the night was five runs allowed on nine hits, three walks and four strikeouts in five innings pitched. But it was enough to notch his sixth win of the year.

The key—along with the offensive outburst—was Oakland’s bullpen. Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour struck out four and allowed only a single hit and one walk combined in three innings. Then the A’s turned to Ryan Cook to close the game. After a leadoff walk and a single to former A’s utility man Marco Scutaro, Cook responded by striking out Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, and inducing a game-ending force out from Todd Helton for his first save.


Good: Brandon Moss and Brandon Inge (tie)

Both were big during the six-run rally to take the lead in the third. Moss’ first home run was a tape-measure shot with the kind of power the A’s have been looking to add at first base. Inge provided insurance with a long home run of his own and also had an RBI double and a huge defensive play to save two runs in the sixth inning.

Neither will hit .300 in a season, but they are both legitimate power threats when their swings are on. Inge also provides above-average defense at a spot that had been a wasteland before his arrival


Bad: Coco Crisp

Another 0-for-4 at the plate. Collin Cowgill should be playing right now. The A’s need every capable hitter they can get, and it seems clearer with each passing day that Crisp is just not going to turn it around with some burst. It is better to just cut losses now.

With the win, the A’s move to 27-35 and look to build on this performance, sending Tom Milone on the bump against former A’s starter Josh Outman. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40 p.m. ET.

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Oakland Athletics: A’s Smash Detroit Tigers to Move Back over .500

With this type of run support, Tom Milone could win 20 games. After getting nine runs in his last start, the A’s offense gave Milone 11 total runs and thumped the Detroit Tigers 11-4 at the Coliseum.

Josh Reddick went 4-for-4 with two home runs and five total RBI. Brandon Inge added four RBI, including his fifth home run, a three-run blast that busted the game open.

That was more than enough for Milone, who bounced back from a shaky first inning to go seven strong innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out six total. 

The A’s responded in the first inning with a Kila Ka’aihue double and Inge singled to right to score him. After that, the offense put up crooked numbers in the third, sixth and seventh innings. Reddick’s first home run and a Seth Smith double made it 4-2 in the third.

The A’s would then score seven runs in the sixth and seventh, buoyed by Reddick’s second home run and Inge’s blast. 

Good: Josh Reddick. Milone was solid, but the night belonged to Reddick. He had two singles and two home runs to raise his average to .292 with eight home runs and 19 RBI. If he stays hot, Reddick could play himself into All-Star consideration.

Bad: Andrew Carignan. I questioned his recall and Carignan struggled in his one inning of relief. He threw 31 pitches (only 13 for strikes) and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks. His earned run average is 8.44 for the year. 

Ugly: Daric Barton. He went 0-for-5 to lower his batting average to .188. There is no reason why he should be starting over Ka’aihue at this point. It just does not make sense. 


Now 17-16, the A’s will send Brandon McCarthy against Detroit’s Doug Fister on Saturday, May 12. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET. 

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Oakland Athletics: Why the A’s Need to Pick Up Brandon Inge

The Oakland Athletics have a glaring hole at third base—one that could be filled effectively by Brandon Inge.

The former Detroit Tiger was cut Thursday, ending a 12-year career in the Motor City.

Inge is only a .234 career hitter.

In nine games this season, he’s 2-for-20, and his .100 batting average is well below the Mendoza Line.

Still, there’s a couple of reasons the A’s should take a chance on Inge.


The Current Incumbents Aren’t Great

As of right now, the two players receiving the most repetitions at third base are Eric Sogard and Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson is a converted catcher. He hasn’t manned third base since college, and it’s obvious.

He’s made three errors and owns a .917 fielding percentage.

His hitting is worse.

Donaldson is 3-for-21 (.097). He has just one RBI.

The better option is Sogard, who played second base and some shortstop in Triple-A.

But Sogard is hitting .167/.239/.333.

Luckily, of his seven hits, he’s hit a double and two home runs. He’s also scored six runs.

Defensively, Sogard has two errors. He’s had six less chances to field a ball than Donaldson and nearly the same amount of errors. His fielding percentage is .933.

Then there’s Luke Hughes.

Three errors in two games at third base combined with an 0-for-6 batting average doesn’t make him a feasible option at this point.

Brandon Inge is an upgrade defensively.

He only played in eight games with the Tigers in 2012 before getting cut, but he only made one error. (The error was at second base.)

He’s spent most of his big league experience at third base, and his career fielding percentage is .961 at the hot corner.

The A’s have players who are filling in at third base. They aren’t actually third basemen.

But Inge is the opposite.

He’s a third baseman who has filled in elsewhere as needed constantly throughout his career.


Brandon Inge Could Benefit From a Change of Scenery

Yes, his hitting is atrocious.

But Oakland could be the rebound he needs.

Inge has been under the pressure of losing his job in Detroit for the last several years. He’s been bounced around from position to position. He’s constantly had the prospect of being cut lurking over his shoulder and zero consistency.

Now, he’s just been cut from the team he called home for his entire career.

Questions loom whether this is it for his baseball career. But if he’s not ready, he has to use this as a spark.

No one wants to leave the game hitting .100, cut in April. Most want to leave the game behind on their own terms.

It’s the perfect fit.

One last chance for Inge, and Oakland needs a third baseman. I’m not saying Inge will come in and magically hit .350 and carry the team to the playoffs.

Not even close.

The A’s have only five players hitting above .200. If Inge can man third effectively and hit .230, it’d be a win-win for both sides.

It’s not going to hurt Oakland’s budget any either.

Inge currently makes $5.5 million. Due to being released, Detroit must pay the majority of his contract whether he sits at home or suits up for someone else.

All the A’s have to pay is the pro-rated minimum salary for a veteran of his stature.

Upgrade at defense? Absolutely.

Cheap? Definitely.

Can he hit as well as anyone else on the team? I’m sure he can.

If he can’t, it’s not hurting the A’s any.

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Brandon Inge and Ben Wallace: A Tale of Two Detroit Sports Careers

Two Detroit sports underdogs peeled off their uniforms for the last time as members of their respective teams, and they both did it on Thursday.

While that’s not where the similarities end, the endings couldn’t have been more different. The only thing the cessations of their careers have in common is that they happened within hours of each other.

At approximately 4:30 Thursday afternoon, Brandon Inge was called into the manager’s office, and he certainly must have known what was cooking. When Inge stepped into Jim Leyland’s lair and saw that GM Dave Dombrowski and assistant GM Al Avila were also there, the trio likely didn’t even need to say a word.

Inge was out, given the ziggy by his patient-to-a-fault bosses.

This wasn’t so much a release as it was a mercy killing.

Inge’s baseball career in Detroit had become that rabid dog in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the trio of Dombrowski, Avila and Leyland had no choice but to shoot it dead.

Detroit doesn’t have the reputation of Philadelphia or other tough sports burgs when it comes to booing its athletes out of town. The Motor City sports fan has a lot of forgiveness in his blood, sometimes to a fault.

But when it comes to Inge, the much-maligned utility man, there’s no question that the people had spoken and the Tigers organization, like any responsible customer service-based business, had no choice but to listen.

Inge, along with his .100 batting average, was jettisoned after Thursday’s game against Seattle. He was the butt of a wry and mean-spirited joke.

“Who bats after Brandon Inge?”

Answer: the other team.

In the end, there were one too many pop outs, one too many strikeouts, one too many mistakes in the field. And each was followed by the cascades of booing in Comerica Park usually reserved for the superstar Tiger-killers from other teams.

I believe that last weekend’s unmerciful booing of Inge is what sealed his fate with the Tigers.

As the Tigers dropped three of four to the vaunted Texas Rangers, and as the entire team struggled to match forces with the two-time defending American League Champions, Inge was hardly the Lone Ranger, as Leyland would say, when he struggled to to scratch out a hit.

But no Tiger was booed as savagely as Inge was as one at-bat after the other of his ended badly. He was the dead man walking—or in his case, striking out.

There was a stirring and murmuring in the crowd every time Inge strode to the plate against the Rangers, kind of like there is in those courtroom scenes in the movies.

A weekend of this and the organization that shuns drama decided to put an end to it on Thursday.

In the end, watching an Inge at-bat was, as the late, great sportswriter Jim Murray would say, like watching a guy walk into a noose.

About three hours after Inge was cashiered, Ben Wallace slipped on his Pistons jersey and his blue headband, and took the floor for what is likely the last time in his 16-year NBA career.

Nine of those seasons were spent in Detroit.

Boos didn’t rain from the Palace, however; far from it.

Wallace, who started the game at the insistence of coach Lawrence Frank, was greeted with a standing ovation by the sparse but grateful crowd. A video testimony of his brilliance as an undrafted player from Virginia Union played during a timeout. His Pistons teammates all donned blue headbands in honor of the man they call Big Ben.

The Pistons won, blasting the Philadelphia 76ers out of the gym, 108-86.

After the game, Wallace appeared noncommittal about his future, but at age 37, and after vehemently declaring that retirement was imminent earlier in the year, who among us will be surprised when he hangs up his sneakers and headband for good?

Inge and Wallace both arrived in town around the same time; Inge in 2001, Wallace the year prior.

Both were blue-collar players in their respective sports with less talent than most of their brethren, but with work ethics that dwarfed most.

Both were, at times, the face of their franchise.

You have now reached the end of the Similarity Zone.

Inge never left Detroit to play elsewhere, even when his bosses tried to show him the door. Wallace, on the other hand, grew mystified by coach Flip Saunders and took his act to Chicago in 2006 via free agency.

Ben Wallace and Chicago weren’t a good match. Just two years after inking a deal with the Bulls, Wallace was shipped to Cleveland. It didn’t work out very well with the Cavaliers, either.

By 2009 Wallace was back in Detroit, yet another prodigal son welcomed back by the sports faithful here.

Meanwhile, Inge was a loyal Tiger and even when the team replaced his star with the likes of Pudge Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera and, by proxy, Prince Fielder, Inge was like a warped Dickens character.

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

Both Inge and Wallace made All-Star teams playing in Detroit, but while that may appear to be a similarity, it really isn’t, because Inge’s All-Star year (2009) was an aberration, while Wallace was a multiple year All-Star who was Defensive Player of the Year four times.

Then there is the end of their respective careers in Detroit.

Inge was driven out of town, done in by poor performance and customer dissatisfaction. Wallace was lauded and cheered, all the way until he disappeared in the tunnel leading to the Pistons locker room.

But there is one more similarity.

Both Brandon Inge and Ben Wallace wore their team logos as if branded onto their heart. Even though Wallace fled via free agency, it wasn’t anything personal against the city or its basketball fans. It was hardly a surprise when Big Ben returned in 2009.

Inge, for his part, could have done a money grab last summer when the Tigers designated him for assignment. Yet he chose to stick it out, serve his time in the minors, and hope for a call-up, which he got.

It’s ironic that this final similarity did nothing to diminish the extreme disparity of how Inge’s and Wallace’s commitment to their team and their city influenced their exits.

Detroit vilified Inge was vilified, but portrayed Wallace as a hero.

Go figure.

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MLB Spring Training: Has Ryan Raburn Had His Last Chance at a Full-Time Job?

Something tells me that Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn’t too enamored with Ryan Raburn.

Not that I can totally blame him. Raburn has never exactly hopped on any opportunity to show that he can be an every day player. Raburn’s early season struggles and mental lapses in defense have made him a player that is polarizing to fans.

Luckily—or perhaps unluckily—Brandon Inge is still on the Tigers’ roster. 

It’s lucky for Raburn because without him, Raburn would surely be the biggest target of public scorn that the Tigers have. It’s unlucky for him because Leyland’s infatuation with the Mendoza line straddling Inge likely means less at-bats for Raburn.

In 2011, Raburn’s story of his career came through once again in full fruition. After the first three months of the season, Raburn was hitting a mere .205 leading to a lot of DNP’s in his game log.

While it seems .205 would be a career year for Brandon Inge, a slow start like that just doesn’t cut it for Raburn, who is obviously depended on for his offense. 

In typical fashion, Raburn once again heated up and was good in the playoffs. Perhaps because of his annual early struggles he’s lost the complete trust of Leyland as a permanent, full-time answer anywhere in the field.

Raburn was thought to be the primary second baseman heading into the season, but it appears that Inge is going to be given every opportunity there and here’s guessing that he will open there to start the season.

The other likely position would be to play Raburn in left field. While he’s as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie in the outfield, he’s superior defensively to Delmon Young. However, Young hasn’t exactly been quiet about not wanting to be the DH and Leyland doesn’t like to make his players unhappy.

So it’s looking like Raburn is once again finding himself without a home in the field. He’ll still get some reps in the field, though—filling in at second when Inge or Ramon Santiago aren’t there or spelling Young in left—and he’ll fill in at DH whenever Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder aren’t there.

This year has the look of a 300 at-bat season for Raburn and then off to free agency. Unless, of course, he can reverse his first half struggles and force Leyland to get him into the every day lineup.


Follow me on twitter @detsportsczar or at www.thesportsczar.com.

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Brandon Inge Should Be the Least of Detroit’s Worries Going into 2012

Everyone around the Detroit Tigers organization knew that the massive signing of first baseman Prince Fielder would create a shift in the way that the team plays baseball going into the 2012 season.

The biggest shift was thought to be the expected move of Miguel Cabrera from first base to third base, and how the slugger would react to such a move.

Cabrera didn’t mind the move at all, according to manager Jim Leyland. At that point, everything involving controversy should have ended.

But it didn’t. Enter underachieving third baseman Brandon Inge.

Now, Inge has had a great career as a Tiger. For many years he was considered one of the best defensive third baseman in the game. However, as time has gone by and injuries have accrued, Inge has found himself as a solid, yet not spectacular, defender.

Then there’s his 2011 campaign. Inge had a .197 average, and for most of the season he wasn’t even living up to that standard. While he had a few good games after coming back from his demotion to Triple-A Toledo, he spent a lot of the season splitting time with Wilson Betemit and Don Kelly.

This needs to be prefaced by saying that if Inge were getting cast away to the bench in favor of someone like, say, Don Kelly, there would be some room to be upset.

That being said, Inge has no room to complain after his 2011 season. He’s being replaced by Miguel Cabrera, who is arguably the best hitter on this team even with the acquisition of Prince Fielder. The fact that Leyland had to address Inge at all during Fielder’s press conference–the manager said that Inge was not a happy camper–is simply ridiculous.

The city of Detroit, for the most part, identifies with Inge. He’s always been considered a blue-collar player; that is, a grind-it-out kind of guy that puts on his hard hat and goes to work.

However, as of late, it seems as though he spends quite a bit of time complaining about his situation rather than actually playing baseball at a high level. This is a player with a superstar mentality and a bench player’s stat line.

It’s understandable that Leyland was merely addressing a question asked of him by the media when referencing Brandon Inge, but the fact is that until Inge starts playing at the level of Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder–something that he’ll likely never do–no one should care how Brandon feels about being on the bench. Is that harsh? Maybe, but that’s the way it has to be if you want a successful baseball team.

Will all of that being said, there’s still a place for Brandon Inge on this team, if he can accept the role. Since Leyland loves his “lazy Sunday” lineup, which includes a lot of role players, Inge could see a bit of playing time still.

All in all, this shouldn’t be a huge distraction going into the season. But if Inge wants to keep his fan base, he should probably let this go and just play baseball.

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Brandon Inge Again Left out in the Cold by Detroit Tigers

He has been, in a way, the Rasputin of the Tigers. Or the poetic feline who possesses nine lives. Take your pick.

They’ve tried running Brandon Inge out of town for about eight years now. It’s all been done to him—free agents and trade acquisitions arriving to play his position (twice), talk radio blazing with anti-Inge venom. The Tigers even designated him for assignment last summer, and traded for a replacement: Wilson Betemit.

Betemit has been signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent. And Inge not only survived his DFA, he made it all the way back to the Tigers’ playoff roster.

Betemit, the man the Tigers traded for to take Inge’s spot on the roster, is gone. And Inge is still here. Figure that one out.

Nature even tried to nudge Inge out of Detroit, vis a vis the infamous bout of mononucleosis that befell him last year, which was likely a factor in his woeful performance at the plate.

Yet here Inge was, as recently as last week, boldly and gamely speaking of seizing, once again, his cherished spot at third base.

He declared himself healthy, and frankly a little ticked off.

“I love Don Kelly,” Inge told the media during the Tigers Winter Caravan last week, speaking of the man he was slated to platoon with at the hot corner. “But I don’t intend on platooning.”

Inge, the player who many Tigers fans either hate to love or love to hate, looked to be working on yet another life wearing the Old English D.

Then came the news that rocked the baseball world.

It started spilling out on Twitter shortly after 3:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Prince Fielder, the Herculean free agent first baseman, had been signed by the Tigers. For nine years, at a cost of $214 million.

Inge again became collateral damage, because in order to make room for Fielder—no fat jokes, please—the Tigers planned on moving incumbent first sacker Miguel Cabrera to (drum roll please) third base.

Rim shot!

They’re doing it again to Brandon Inge.

The first time this happened was eight years ago, when the Tigers, coming off a 43-119 debacle, managed to snare free agent catcher Pudge Rodriguez.

Inge was the Tigers’ catcher back then.

Despite Pudge’s Hall of Fame credentials, Inge, with a sour puss, whined about the acquisition. Inge thought himself fit to be the team’s starting catcher, despite a batting average hovering around .200 in 2003.

Inge pointed to his defense, which he felt was akin to Rodriguez’s at the time.

I thought Inge to be a petulant young player back then, with the way he reacted to the (at the time) gargantuan news of Pudge’s signing.

Then in spring training 2008, Inge, the Tigers’ starting third baseman at the time, was displaced by the winter time acquisition of Miguel Cabrera. On Opening Day, Inge found himself in center field, of all places. Soon he was back behind the plate, playing a position he thought he’d left for good after he fell in love with third base.

Meanwhile, the Tigers kept playing musical chairs with their glove men.

Cabrera moved from third base to first base after 14 games. Carlos Guillen switched from first to third. Inge kept catching, and would replace Guillen in the late innings at third base.

Guillen didn’t play after August 25 that year, so Inge reclaimed third base.

In 2009, Inge was an All-Star third baseman, and played the second half of the season on two ravaged knees.

The 2011 season was a disaster for Inge. He didn’t have his health or his strength, and soon he didn’t even have a spot on the Tigers roster. He was roasted daily on sports talk radio. Even after being designated for assignment in July, Inge refused to leave the Tigers, accepting the assignment rather than becoming a free agent. He ended up in Toledo, which wasn’t far enough away for the haters’ liking.

It looked like the end of Inge’s Tigers career. The team traded for Betemit. Inge was a minor leaguer, his teammates mostly 10 years younger than he, or more.

Yet I wondered aloud on “The Knee Jerks” podcast in mid-August whether the Tigers might call Inge back to the big club when rosters expanded on September 1. Wouldn’t it be something, I opined, if Inge returned to the Tigers and became productive?

The Tigers indeed recalled Inge—on August 20, making him eligible for the playoff roster. Leading off the second inning, taking his first hacks as a Tiger in a month, Inge clobbered a home run. The man fans hate to love and love to hate got a curtain call.

That game on August 20 was the first of four multi-hit games Inge would register as he got stronger and more productive. Rasputin was still alive.

As the Tigers’ winter caravan rolled on last week, Inge spoke eagerly about the upcoming season, being healthy and all.

Then came the Fielder signing, and Inge was knocked for a loop yet again.

As manager Jim Leyland put it the other day, Inge is “not the happiest camper” in the wake of the news of Fielder’s blockbuster, totally unforeseen signing.

Leyland told the media at the Fielder press conference on Thursday that he wishes he could have broken the news to Inge personally, instead of the latter finding out the way the rest of us found out.

Normally it wouldn’t matter what a guy who hit .197 last season thinks about player personnel moves. It wouldn’t matter if that player found out by TV, radio, Pony Express or by messenger pigeon.

But there’s something about this crazy, mixed up relationship between Brandon Inge and the Detroit Tigers. And, by extension, the fan base.

It’s a relationship that keeps all parties off balance. Just when Inge thinks he has it made, the rug gets pulled out from under him. And just when the Inge haters who follow the Tigers think they’re rid of him, he re-emerges.

Frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my 41 years of following and covering Detroit sports.

Brandon Inge has, yet again, been nudged out of the picture, and this time there isn’t center field or catcher waiting as a consolation prize.

Even though Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said Inge “is still an important part of this team,” it’s hard to see how, with Cabrera moving to third base and Alex Avila entrenched at catcher.

Lots of Tigers fans couldn’t care less if Inge is “not the happiest camper” right now. They’re too giddy about Prince Fielder. Duly noted, and understood.

With Brandon Inge, it always seems like there’s someone else. Then it always seems like it’s him again. This has been going on for eight years now.

To quote the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

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