No, you didn't read the headline wrong. Manager Jim Leyland has named Brandon Inge a starter at second base. Now, just let that settle in for a little, grab your blood pressure meds and let's explore this a little bit.
Inge will start the season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, the easy way out for Leyland and General Manager Dave Dombrowski. The Tigers chose not to make a real decision on Inge, they didn't cut him, like many April Fools jokesters would have you believe. They didn't send him to the minors, but they also didn't put him on the everyday roster - until now.
Against the wishes of most Tigers fans with a pulse Leyland announced that Inge will be the starting second baseman for the Tigers when they are up against left-handed starting pitchers. They also decided to take Ryan Raburn who had an excellent spring at the plate and in the field and move him to the designated hitter role.
So they took the guy in Raburn who hit .268 and boasted a .994 fielding percentage and told him to go sit on the bench and make sure you can get us a hit every third inning. Raburn is the one guy on the team that you don't make the DH. He has struggled at the plate in the first half of the last several seasons, and now that he is coming off a hot spring they're going to sit him down and get him out of his rhythm so they can appease a guy hitting .180?
Yes, that's right, Inge hit a whopping .180 against pitchers in the spring. The time when pitchers are working on new pitches and the majority of games are pitched by minor leaguers and this "major leaguer" couldn't get his average above the Mendoza Line? That's the guy that you want to trot out in the starting line up, really?
Nothing about the spring Inge had called out for him to make the spring. Nothing. He didn't screw up defensively, but he also didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Not to mention he still couldn't hit the broadside of a barn.
Detroit, at least, called Danny Worth up to begin the season with the team, but if he is sent to the minors when Inge is taken off the DL it will be a travesty. Worth had a heck of a spring, he hit .317 and can play multiple infield positions. Inge, remember, hit .180 and Leyland said he would not be using Inge as a defensive replacement for Miguel Cabrera at third late in games.
So, let's break this down. The Tigers need a second baseman, the guy that started the most games at 2B in the spring and hit .268 while doing that will not get that job. He will be riding the pine and will be the designated hitter. The guy who is hitting .317 and can play multiple infield positions in Worth, likely won't be on the team more than two weeks. But the guy who is hitting .180 and whines about everything will get to start games for the Tigers.
That makes sense.