Not only will Brandon Inge be playing in his first All-Star Game next Tuesday, but his 19 home runs (tied for the fourth-highest total in the American League) for the season have also prompted an invitation to participate in Monday night's Home Run Derby.
"I figured it would be something to have fun with," he said. "As I grew up as a little kid, I always watched the Home Run Derby. I wouldn't watch the whole game; I couldn't sit there long enough. So I just want to go out there and do that, have fun with it, enjoy it, represent our team the best I can."
No one on the American League side has been officially announced as participants yet. The National League contingent was announced days ago, with Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez bringing their big sticks to the Derby. The AL grouping, however, is more notable for who's declined an invitation. Last year's champion and runner-up, Justin Morneau and Josh Hamilton, have both opted out. But that just creates an opportunity for players such as Inge.
For those worried that participating in a home run hitting contest might mess up Inge's swing, he doesn't seem too concerned about that.
"Nah, that doesn't mess with your swing," he said. "You can play golf. You can do anything you want. It doesn't matter. It's just the point of having fun."
Nor does his manager.
"That's the biggest bunch of [baloney] in the history of baseball," Jim Leyland said. "It's showtime and it doesn't affect anything. Half of them try to do it all year long anyway. That's just a nice topic for conversation."
Ah, yes - The Tao of Leyland. We need a little bit more of that this year.