BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) -- Pirates' Manager Clint Hurdle had said that veteran Brandon Inge is "close" to playing a position in Grapefruit League games; and that'd be fine with Inge, who is recovered from shoulder surgery last September – well, almost.
Inge, who was a valuable contributor for the AL West champion Oakland A's after being released by the Detroit Tigers last April, dislocated his right shoulder in August, and then aggravated the injury when he tried to return Sept. 1.
Despite more than decent numbers in Oakland – 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in 74 games – teams were reluctant to take a chance with Inge until the Pirates signed him days before camp opened. So Inge has been brought along slowly, limited to DH duty in five exhibition games.
"Obviously, you want to come in and make an impression," Inge says, "but it really helps nobody if I come out and get hurt out of the chute trying to rush anything. The trainers have been doing a good job of holding me back.
"My goal was to be ready by April, and I feel like I'm ahead of that, "Inge continues. "The most important thing is I feel healthy again and am pretty close to 100 percent."
Inge is a third baseman by trade but can also fill in at second, first and the corner outfield; plus, he can provide veteran leadership.
"Yes, but what it boils down to is production on the field," says Inge who turns 36 in May. "You can lead somebody all you want, but if you don't get it down on the field (it doesn't do any good)."
And Inge should be on the field soon.
"That's up them," he says, "I've told them I'm good to go," he said.
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