I take one little nap -- one little nap. -- and Brandon Inge news explodes across my social media feeds. Inge asked Jim Leyland for permission to give second base a try this spring. Leyland granted it.
Inge will be working with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in non-official, non-uniform capacity for two weeks, the Detroit News' Tom Gage reports. (whoops, combined two topics in my sleep haze. sorry)
MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck first reported the News on Twitter:
Leyland: Inge has asked for chance to compete for 2nd base job. He'll get his shot. More to come on the site.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) February 16, 2012
Gage followed up with a quote from Tigers manager Jim Leyland:
"don't know how he will handle the pivot, plus he has to hit" - #Tigers Leyland about Inge— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) February 16, 2012
The two big issues are how Inge takes to second base defensively, and I think that's the lesser issue, and how Inge hits, and that's an issue anywhere. Inge has never played at second base before, but he is athletic and I would expect to see him take to the footwork of the position.
The biggest issue with Inge is always how he performs at the plate. Coming off a season where he hit .197 -- and we won't even discuss his on-base percentage or slugging average for fear of scaring the kids who might read BYB -- Inge hit his way right off the team last July. If Inge can get his average up a bit and if he finds a return of his power to 2009 or 2010 levels, that might be enough. Let's also remember that Inge hits left-handed pitchers much better than right.
The worry is, well, Leyland finding the right places to put everyone. Delmon Young should not start in left field. He will anyway. Raburn should not start at second base. He might anyway. If Leyland tries too hard to get Inge into his lineup, well, it could be ugly. However, if Inge plays in a platoon with Ramon Santiago (splits), who doesn't hit particularly well anyway, and Leyland shifts Raburn out of the infield entirely, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, would it? Just talking out loud here though.
By now, Twitter has turned into a typical Inge-versation. Half the people hate giving Inge any chance at all, half the people hate the haters. The comment thread on this story may go in that direction as well if I ever wake up enough to post this in any coherent fashion. (I'm not just dreaming this Inge thing, am I?)
But, like everything else, taking a wait and see approach seems prudent here.