Sit the Special Little Guy Down

Brandon Inge was the hero the other day with is walkoff homer against Kansas City. As much as I rag on the little bastard, I can't help but feel good for the guy when he succeeds. He's unbelievable on defense, the most popular Tiger there is, and possibly the emotional leader of the team. But he needs time off. Check out Lynn Henning's Tiger Notebook. Here's some highlights.

Jim Leyland watches Brandon Inge wince while swinging at a breaking ball.

That's odd. I wince every time I watch Brandon Inge swing at a breaking ball.

Or grimace as he makes a sharp cut while fielding a ground ball. And the Tigers manager concedes, "I don't know what to do with him."

Easy, Jim. Put him on the At the end of the season when we're fighting to stay on top in the AL Central, Brandon Inge, especially on defense, is going to be a key part of the Detroit Tigers winning games. We need him as healthy as possible down the stretch when we're finishing the season against the Central teams. And the chances of that happening get worse with him playing every day in early and mid-August.

Inge's knee tendinitis has been bad enough for long enough to have knocked him onto the disabled list. But he plays.

If you ignore the signs your body is sending you when you have knee tendinitis, your leg muscles will weaken while compensating for the pain in the knee and instability of the patellar tendon. You also end up with larger and larger tears to the tendon. Recovery time varies between a few weeks to a few months, depending on how bad it is. A couple weeks of rest can't be anything but good for Inge's health.

"I appreciate his toughness," Leyland said. "I saw him cringe on one breaking ball. You could see it tonight (in the field). There are certain times it's hard to get off against a particular ground ball. "And you can tell on pop flies down the line when he can't get there."

This isn't about being tough. Hey, I pick on him more than anyone, but I respect Brandon Inge's guts. He is a wonderful teammate, no question about it. Even when he was upset with his role on the team, he still rooted the other guys on more than anyone, from what I saw. But for his health and the good of the team in the long run, sit his ass down for 15 days and give Mike Hessman a call up.

Hessman, the white Marcus Thames (crap, that's Rob Deer...whatever), is the 31 year old Mud Hens third basemen hitting .213 with 17 homers and 58 RBI's. Not great numbers, sure. But in 31 plate appearances with Detroit last year, the big guy hit .296 with 5 dingers, enough for a 1.276 OPS. He's decent on defense, too. He'll get us through while Brandon gets some much deserved rest.

Standing in front of his locker after Friday night's walk-off victory, Inge didn't argue. But he was in no mood to talk about anything other than a pitching masterpiece between Kansas City's Zack Greinke and Detroit's Jarrod Washburn.

Yeah, he knows he's in pain. But he's not going to ask to come out. He wants to play. But you have to do what's best for the guy. The Tigers need to give Inge some "tough love" and ground him for a while. Our small chance of winning in October gets miniscule without Brandon at third. (I can't believe I'm typing this. If you'd have told me I'd be saying this at the beginning of the year, I probably would have asked you used to ride a short bus to school every day as a kid.)

Of course, I'm not there every day with the guy. You'd think that the Marlboro Man and Kevin Rand would do what is best for Inge and the team. At least I hope so. If they keep letting him play and he completely tears his knee apart, we're screwed. And they're going to have a lot of explaining to do to the angry mob of 13 year old girls in Detroit.

Just for fun...later in the article:

Leyland, incidentally, is adamant that Raburn, 28, is a better outfielder than an infielder.

Leyland, incidentally, appears to be smoking as much crack as he is Marlboros. My five year old even covers his eyes when a fly ball is hit to Raburn. (He also cries hysterically when Rodney comes into the game. Smart kid.)

And my favorite part of this piece from Henning...

Colon, who once pitched for the Tigers, said of his pitch that Inge hit out: "He knew I was throwing a fastball, and I got it in the strike zone and he hit it. Inge is a good hitter for a short guy."

Good hitter FOR A SHORT GUY! Oh, no he didn't!

No respect...