Texas two-step (cont.)
Posted: Friday March 14, 2008 11:13AM; Updated: Thursday March 20, 2008 5:05PM
Trade talk isn't even Inge-ing along now
Somehow, light-hitting Tigers backup Brandon Inge has become one of the more fascinating figures in any camp. The player who hit .236 in 2008 has been a subject for debate in at least two camps.
Inge immediately became a candidate to be traded upon completion of the Miguel Cabrera trade. But there appears to be a difference of opinion within Tigers camp over the value of dealing Inge.
Some in the Tiger hierarchy have envisioned Inge as a potential catching replacement for Pudge Rodriguez, who could leave after his contract expires following the season. But Inge himself has expressed strong doubts about whether his heart is in catching, and he recently opined that he finds hitting especially difficult when he's catching. If Inge isn't the future catcher, his value to the Tigers appears limited.
For that reason, manager Jim Leyland has said he believes a trade for Inge still makes sense. Leyland may even prefer Ryan Rayburn, who hit. 304 in limited duty with the Tigers, as a pinch hitter.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been viewed as a possible landing spot for Inge. But they haven't talked to Detroit lately, and according to people familiar with their silence, that is likely due to yet another difference of opinion regarding Inge, this one in Dodgers camp.
Word is, Dodgers manager Joe Torre likes Inge's abilities from Torre's days as Yankees manager. However, the Dodgers' front office doesn't want to commit to the $19.2 million remaining on Inge's contract over the next three years.
Dodgers people made this call not to aggressively pursue Inge before injuries to third base prospect Andy LaRoche and veteran infielder Nomar Garciaparra. But even after both players got hurt (LaRoche is out for two months after being hit by a pitch; Garciaparra is expected back soon after the Dodgers return from their China trip), there's no evidence of renewed interest.
Teams don't often spend $19 million in spring, and even if they did, the Dodgers question whether Inge, whose strength is in his acrobatic defense and cannon arm, would provide any more offense than Garciaparra. Which means that unless the Giants go for Inge (they also need a third baseman) or the Astros think they can convince Inge to catch (he'd have to show a little more interest in the idea before that could become a viable opportunity), Inge may be stuck with the Tigers. And Leyland may be stuck with Inge.
Reggie and Steinbrenner together again
George Steinbrenner is being inducted into the Ted Williams Hall of Fame March 18 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Reggie Jackson will make the presentation to Steinbrenner. Also being inducted are Roberto Alomar, Goose Gossage and Andre Dawson. Alomar said, "My one regret was not playing for George Steinbrenner.'' Steinbrenner has been seen rarely this year around Steinbrenner Field, but people around the team say he seems to be doing better than last spring.
Around the Camps
Right hander Johnny Cueto (nine innings, eight K's, one run) is turning heads in Reds camp.
Kyle Lohse was a necessary pickup for the Cardinals. Matt Clement appears to be a long ways away, and Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter aren't ready yet, either. Cardinals people didn't sound thrilled to spend the $4.25 million. But it was nice to see them acquire a player with no connection to the Mitchell Report.
The Yankees are saying Andy Pettitte's elbow inflammation isn't a concern. And GM Brian Cashman said by phone that it actually was he who canceled Pettitte's last outing, as a precaution.
Similarly, Red Sox people are downplaying Josh Beckett's back pain. Although, back pain can be tricky.
Boston isn't expecting miracles from Bartolo Colon.
Free agent pitcher Freddy Garcia could be a great summer pickup for some team. It is likely he'll hold a showcase sometime in June, if all goes as planned.
Shelley Duncan was wrong to go in spikes first at second against Tampa Bay.
Billy Crystal, classic bandwagon jumper, never should have gotten an at-bat from the Yankees. I don't care if he played for Long Beach (N.Y.) High 40-some years ago. And by the way, if he's such a great fan, where was he before 1996? Not anywhere near the Yankees, that's for sure.
Beyond that, in the category of celebrity interlopers, at least Garth Brooks put in some time in camp before getting an at-bat.
2 of 2