Following their 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night, the Detroit Tigers announced that third baseman Brandon Inge would be recalled from Class AAA Toledo. To make room for him on Detroit’s active roster, outfielder Andy Dirks was optioned back to the Mud Hens.
Inge will get the start at third base Saturday against the Indians.
Even after Inge was designated for assignment in mid-July, the understanding seemed to be pretty clear that he would be back in Detroit by September. Actually, Inge would have to rejoin the Tigers just before Sept. 1 to be eligible for postseason play. But with 12 days remaining in August, the timing of this call-up is a bit curious.
With the acquisition of Delmon Young on Monday, the Tigers likely wanted Andy Dirks to get some regular playing time in Toledo. (The presumption is that he’ll rejoin the team by September, as well.)
Perhaps the idea is to let Inge settle back into playing third base at the major league level. Wilson Betemit looked to get the majority of time at third base after the Tigers traded for him, thus making Inge expendable. But he’s basically been a platoon player with Don Kelly in recent weeks. (I presume it’s because manager Jim Leyland just cannot abide by Betemit’s abysmal defense at third.)
It's too bad that Inge probably wouldn't agree to squat back at his old position of catcher. The Tigers could certainly use someone to give Alex Avila an occasional rest behind the plate. But between Inge's surgically repaired knees, along with his well-known disdain for the position, that's not going to happen.
Inge made the most of his time with the Mud Hens, posting a slash average of .287/.389/.519 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 108 at-bats. Yes, that was against Triple-A pitching, but maybe Inge was also able to work a few kinks out of his swing away from the harsh spotlight of the majors and reporters asking him about his struggles every day.
Dirks has been respectable in his stint with the Tigers, batting .257/.301/.411 with six homers, 21 RBIs and four stolen bases. But with Young playing left field and Magglio Ordonez still taking up a roster spot, there just wasn’t much opportunity to play him. Even though he provides just about everything you’d want in a reserve outfielder, with the ability to play all three outfield positions and a left-handed bat.
(Don Kelly may take that reserve outfielder role now, with Inge back to play third base. Betemit could be the left-handed side of a platoon with Inge.)
However, as said above, Dirks’ stay in Toledo probably won’t last more than 10 days or so.