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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reports: Brandon Inge asks to compete at 2B

You had to know that Brandon Inge was going to try to get on the field somehow.

With the addition of Prince Fielder necessitating the move of Miguel Cabrera to his "natural" position of third base, that meant that Brandon Inge was out of a role, albeit not out of a job. Still under contract for 2012 at a cost of $5.5 million — awfully expensive for a utility infielder — the Tigers would love to make use of their longest-tenured player, rather than just let him languish on the bench.

So it was no surprise that reports out of Lakeland, Fla. (first mentioned by's Jason Beck) were that Inge had asked permission to enter the competition for the one and only starting spot still up for grabs — second base. Tom Gage of the Detroit News reported that Inge first made the request with a call to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who then called manager Jim Leyland.

Both gave a thumbs-up.

That move doesn't really answer any questions, and merely brings up some more, but it does give him a chance to compete, at the very least.

That's something that both Dombrowski and Leyland said that Inge would both need AND want to do in spring training.

"I did not speak to Brandon or his representatives, but I can understand he would not be thrilled. But I also think at this point, probably the best thing for him to do at this point — he’s not coming off a big-number year, and the market has been pretty well set — probably the best thing is let him come to spring training and let him play well, and let’s see what happens from there," Dombrowski said at the Fielder press conference, when asked if Inge had requested a trade. "I still think he can play a very important part of our club. And I’ll tell you what, we’re trying to win."

And while Leyland knew Inge wasn't happy, he also knew he'd be willing to fight. After all, it was Inge himself who said during the Winter Caravan this would be a season where there'd be "No more Mr. Nice Guy," when it came to playing time.

"I really believe Brandon Inge can be a big part of this team, if he wants to be. He’s a trooper, he’s a Tiger. He’s done everything we’ve asked. I don’t control situations like that. The owner of this ballclub wanted to sign Prince Fielder, and he did. And that makes the manager move some pieces around. That’s my responsibility. It just so happened that Brandon was involved in some of that movement, as we speak today," Leyland said at the Fielder press conference.
"I don’t want to slight Brandon Inge’s contributions, and hopefully his future contributions, to this organization.
I talked to him (the day before the press conference), I did the best I could to explain it to him. I apologized to him for not getting it to him before the news broke. ...
"He’s not very happy, because he wants to play, and I wouldn’t give you a nickel for him, if he didn’t want to play.
"I love Brandon Inge."

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