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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Odd to see Brandon Inge in Oakland green

Some things just don’t look right.

One of those was Brandon Inge suiting up in a green No. 18 jersey for the Oakland A’s on Monday, after agreeing to a one-year contract.

“It’s a good feeling, but at the same time it’s different,” Inge told The Associated Press. “Just spending that long in one organization, it’s part of my home. But the business side of it is: sometimes you’ve got to realize when the end is. This is a better fit for me right now, and I’m happy to be here. I was a fan of this team when I was a kid, too. I remember watching Rickey Henderson.”

For all that he was 2-for-20 in nine games for the Tigers, that was still lightyears ahead of what the Athletics were putting out at third base offensively, after another former Tiger, Scott Sizemore, injured his knee in the spring.

The three guys Inge essentially replaced — Josh Donaldson, Eric Sogard and Luke Hughes — were hitting a combined .111 at the time of the transaction, and slugging a whopping .197 through the start of Tuesday’s game.

Several Tigers players got in contact with their former teammate. Manager Jim Leyland hadn’t had a chance yet, but got a chance to watch Inge’s Oakland debut on TV when the Tigers’ game Monday was rained out.

“I will call him. I saw him hit one time last night on TV, hit a ball pretty good to centerfield, but it was caught. He had a decent night, obviously. I think he’ll be fine,” Leyland said. “He’s back in his comfort zone at third base, and he’s gonna get a lot of reps, and good for him. I’m happy for him. I know all the guys are happy for him, I know Justin (Verlander) texted him or talked to him. It’s great.”

Inge, of course, was released last Thursday by the Tigers after a slow start to his 12th season with the team. The organization will be on the hook for the majority of of his $5 million salary plus the $500,000 buyout for next year. The A’s will pick up the pro-rated portion of the MLB veteran’s minimum salary of $480,000.

Much like Inge insisted that there was no hard feelings with his former organization, his longtime manager wished him well, too.

“I would have been happy for him, whether he handled everything well or not, but he handled things as well as you possibly could. Sometimes, it’s time. He wants to play. He’s an athlete, he’s active. He wants to play. And now he’s going to get a chance to,” Leyland said. “I thought he made a great comment: When we moved Cabrera to third, was it the end for Brandon? No, but it was going to be a totally different situation, which I didn’t think, in the end, he was going to be real happy with. I mean, he did all the right things, he said all the right things, he worked. But he’s an athlete. He wants to play. He’s a competitor. He wants to be in the action. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

But wasn’t it weird to see him in a different uniform?

“No. And I’ll tell you why: The game’s changed. If that would’ve been 40, 50 years ago, then probably, yeah. When a guy got traded, yeah. But with free agency and everything, with the way guys get moved, no,” Leyland said.

“I look at things differently. I look at my memories with Brandon, and I’ll cherish them forever, at a time in my career, probably when it’s over, go back and say, ‘I can remember this home run he hit,’ or I can remember something Brandon said that was funny, or something he did that was funny, or some relationship that we had, whether it be an argument or happy, or whatever.

“But in today’s world of baseball, it’s not uncommon to see other people in another uniform.”


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