05/11/12 3:24 AM ET
Inge holds no ill feelings toward Tigers
Oakland's third baseman catches up with former teammates
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
"I got a bunch from a lot of guys," he said Thursday. "That's a class act over in that clubhouse. It's weird to say that other clubhouse."
Inge isn't the only one having to make the transition, but he's having an easier time getting used to it.
His grand slam against his old team Thursday night surely didn't hurt, even though it came in Detroit's 10-6 win over Oakland. But then again, the Tigers have seen dramatic home runs from Inge over the years.
"Inge always hits a big homer in big situations," ex-teammate Ramon Santiago said, "and today he got a fastball right there and he didn't miss."
When the Tigers released Inge last month, he said his 4-year-old son, Chase, supposedly threw his Tigers hat on the ground in frustration without really knowing what he was frustrated about. His older son, Tyler, awkwardly tried to console him.
"He goes, 'Daddy, I feel really bad for you that the Tigers kicked you off the team,'" Inge said. "I almost broke into tears laughing so hard."
He's having fun with it now. Instead of a veteran without a role in Detroit, Inge has become a makeshift elder statesman for a young team in Oakland. More important to him, he has become an everyday player.
Inge doesn't want to rehash the last year as a lightning rod of attention in Detroit, but he'll gladly look back on his fond memories there, and he'll still call it home. For now, though, he just wants to play.
No hard feelings. No revenge. Just give him some at-bats, please.
"I was just actually so glad to get a fresh start," Inge said. "I don't mean fresh start by trying to get out of Detroit. I mean fresh start by being able to start every day. I would've been very open to having a starting job in Detroit, too, because that's home for me. That's family. But I knew there wasn't going to be an opportunity. Getting an opportunity to start every day, that was the key. That was my main goal."
That was what drew him here. His latest batch of at-bats came against the only organization he ever played for until a couple weeks ago.
Inge's first three at-bats Thursday came against Max Scherzer, his teammate for two-plus seasons. Scherzer got a foulout to third with a runner on in the second, a fourth-inning double play and a seventh-inning strikeout as Inge checked his swing on an offspeed pitch.
"It's always odd to face a friend, especially like him," Scherzer said. "He was such a good clubhouse guy. I really got along with him. I wish him the best and I hope he has a great season."
Once Inge came up in the eighth, the Tigers had a 10-2 lead, but two infield singles and a Seth Smith walk had loaded the bases. Rather than let Inge face lefty Phil Coke, manager Jim Leyland turned to Collin Balester.
Balester threw back-to-back fastballs, and Inge sent the second of them over the right-field wall for his second grand slam this week.
"We just didn't expand the zone enough on him," Leyland said. "We know he's got power. We've seen that firsthand."
It wasn't a revenge shot, Inge said, but it still felt good.
"Honestly, it's just about being relaxed and going out there and playing and having fun, being comfortable around a group of guys that make me feel comfortable," said Inge, who is batting .179.
Inge didn't hold any resentment when the Tigers released him -- and he's sticking to it.
"I don't worry or wonder, to be honest with you," he said. "I know in my heart that I gave every bit of energy I had in the tank for that team, for that organization, for that state, city, everything. True fans are going to like it. Other fans, they can critique all they want, that's fine, and I don't my mind it. Good fan, bad fan, they're all fans, and I like them. It's interest in baseball, so that's the most important thing. The only thing I care about is if I play hard for my team."