LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brandon Inge lost his job at third base when Detroit moved Miguel Cabrera across the infield to make room for first baseman Prince Fielder. Instead of sulking, he volunteered to play second base.
He got his chance against the Braves Saturday, making two putouts before coming out after the fifth. Inge made an impressive stop on his first chance in the bottom of the first inning of the Tigers' 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves."Brandon Inge made two great plays," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He made some athletic plays. I don't think athleticism will be an issue."Inge is competing with Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago for the job."I just hope he can get on base, run hard, field, hit, and throw," Leyland said with a smile.Fielder, the Tigers big free agent acquisition this winter, went 2 for 2 with a walk. He is 3 for 3 in Detroit counting Friday's game against Florida Southern College.Doug Fister and seven Detroit pitchers combined to allow only one hit in each team's opener of the Grapefruit League season.The Braves didn't get their first hit until the eighth inning when Jordan Parraz singled off Chris Bootcheck.Mike Minor pitched two innings for the Braves, allowing one hit while striking out three."Our pitchers all had a good day today," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I just want Mike to feel comfortable and that is what getting experience is all about. Pitchers have to grow up and that's what he's doing. If we make the plays he will be fine."Minor was thrown into the pennant race last summer and performed well, going 3-3 in eight starts, but with veteran Tim Hudson out with a sore back until May, the Braves are counting on Minor being ready for Opening Day."It's early and the hitters are behind," Gonzalez said. "(Minor) is maturing. He's got good control and we expect things from him."The Tigers scored in the third when Jerad Head homered to left field. They added another run in the eighth with a when Audy Ciriaco scored on a sacrifice fly.The two teams will meet again on Sunday in Lakeland.
Former Braves stars Fred McGriff and Dave Justice are in camp as special instructors, and Dale Murphy arrived on Saturday. Phil Niekro, Gene Garber and Tom Glavine are expected next week. ... 1B Freddie Freeman was up and running only three days after injuring his right knee in practice on Wednesday. He said he will be able to play by next week. ... Leyland said Jacob Turner would start on Wednesday against the Braves in Lakeland. It is significant because, after the four starters who are considered locks for the rotation, Turner will be the fifth starter of the spring. Turner was 0-1 in three starts last year in Detroit. ... Leyland said that Fielder, Cabrera, and Delmon Young could all split time at designated hitter. None are known for their fielding skills.