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Inge resigned to reality of playing utility role for Tigers in 2008

1/28/2008 - MLB Brandon Inge Detroit Tigers + more

DETROIT -- Brandon Inge is angry the Detroit Tigers acquired
Miguel Cabrera to replace him at third base.



Inge asked the Tigers to trade him after they made the deal at
the winter meetings nearly two months ago, but Detroit hasn't
accommodated him.


"They're still trying to trade me, but I need to get ready for
the possibility that I'm going to spring training with the
Tigers," Inge said Monday, speaking for the first time since the
trade. "People have said or written, 'Take your $6 million and be
happy sitting on the bench.' But money doesn't make me happy --
playing baseball does."


Inge agreed to a $24 million, four-year contract last winter.
After talking to team president Dave Dombrowski on Monday, Inge
said he is ready to move on and begrudgingly accept his role as a
utility player.


"The only reason I'm bitter, mad and frustrated is that I'm
probably not going to play as much as I have in the past," he
said.


Inge played 469 games at third base the past three seasons. The
30-year-old Inge plans to work out with Detroit's pitchers and
catchers beginning Feb. 15 in Lakeland, Fla., where he will get
reacquainted with catching, a position he played for 104 games
during the 2003 season.


Inge has a shot to be Ivan Rodriguez's primary backup because
Vance Wilson has not recovered from elbow surgery that kept him off
the field all of last year.


The versatile Inge also has major league experience at all three
outfield positions. He played shortstop and pitched in college at
Virginia Commonwealth.


"I'll play him everywhere but as a pitcher," Tigers manager
Jim Leyland said. "I talked to Ingey today and we both agreed that
after we discuss his situation during the first or second day of
spring training, we're not going to talk about it anymore and we're
going to make the best of it."


Inge hit .236 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 151 games last year,
when he had 18 errors and probably twice as many spectacular plays
on defense.


Cabrera's batting average last season in Florida was .320 and he
hit 34 homers with 119 RBIs. In five seasons with the Marlins, the
four-time All-Star batted .313 with 138 home runs and 523 RBIs.


Detroit traded for Cabrera and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis
in early December, dealing six players, including two highly rated
prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin.


Inge, one of the most accessible athletes in Detroit, kept his
thoughts to himself for weeks and recently was criticized for it.


"I owe everything to my fans, but it wouldn't have done me or
the Tigers any good to say, 'I don't know what's going to happen,'
or for me to bash anybody about losing my job," Inge said. "My
first two hopes were to start at third for the Tigers or to start
at another position for the team. Now that it looks like those two
options are not going to happen, I thought it was time to talk."