DETROIT — Brandon Inge made a quiet return to Detroit, just the way he wanted it.
Most of the Detroit media contingent made their way to the Oakland clubhouse before the game in hopes of catching up with the former longtime Tiger, but Inge was nowhere to be found.
The first glimpse people saw of him was when he appeared in the A’s dugout, exchanging a wave or two with his former teammates during Tuesday night’s game.
Inge said because the A’s are still playing for something and this is a big series for them, he didn’t want to overshadow that on the first day of the three-game set so he came in quietly before the game started.
After the game, Inge admitted it was strange going to the other clubhouse for the first time at Comerica Park.
“I wanted to make a left turn instead of a right turn,” Inge said. “It was weird coming in this way as opposed to going over to the other side. But I had to see for myself (visiting clubhouse manager) John Nelson’s legendary visiting clubhouse side. It’s pretty good. Lived up to it.”
The view was a little different from the visiting dugout as well.
“It was very different, in a good way, looking across,” Inge said. “More so just seeing the fans here. It’s a different type of fan base here. Oakland has a very similar fan base, they’re very loyal. The ones that are there are very, very loyal, hard core, just like here. Here is a little bit more traditional, it seems like it goes a little further back. It’s a good place to play.”
Inge no longer plays for the Tigers but he does have a strong opinion on the American League MVP race.
The A’s play in the same division as the Los Angeles Angels and rookie phenom Mike Trout, so he’s seen what the kid can do. Inge, of course, also played with Cabrera, who finished with a career high-tying six RBIs Tuesday, thanks to two home runs, including a grand slam, a double and a sacrifice fly.
“(Miguel) Cabrera MVP. Without a doubt,” Inge said before the question was even finished. “There’s not even a question in my mind. I’m not taking anything away from Trout, because he’s done a great job but wow. Miggy, everyone talks in here the same way. He’s the best hitter. On Earth. There’s none better. That’s so plain and simple. To me, it is. I’ve seen the guy. I know what he can do. These guys (A’s) just see him here and there.”
Inge can’t play anymore this season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder last Thursday in Detroit. Dr. Stephen Lemos, one of the Tigers’ team doctors, performed the surgery.
“I’m sore, but I’m supposed to be sore at this point,” Inge said. “But the doc said the surgery went well and I trust him.”
Unfortunately, the injury meant that Inge would not be able to play at Comerica Park against his former teammates.
“I wish I could have played,” Inge said. “I would have loved to play against the guys. I love competition. Love it. And what better competition than to play against my buddies? It didn’t work out that way. I played as hard as I could for as long as I could this year, played through a lot of pain. The time came where I had to make a decision.
“I still want to play a lot, a few more years down the road. I still have a lot left in the tank. I just want to make sure that I’ll be available for next year. That’s kind of where this decision came into play. If I can’t throw, I’m really no good to this ball club.”
Inge originally injured the shoulder Aug. 11 in Chicago, went on the disabled list and then re-injured it making a throw when he came off the DL. That didn’t stop him from hitting a two-run double in his last game, giving him 52 RBIs in 74 games with the A’s.
With the A’s still in contention behind the Texas Rangers for the AL West or at least a wild card berth, Inge said he had enjoyed playing a role in the team’s unexpected success this season.
“I’m kind of pleased to be a part of it,” Inge said. “I felt like I’ve been able to be a big part of what’s been going on. It’s a young team, gotta show them the ropes.”
Inge said he also enjoyed playing for manager Bob Melvin, who spent time in Detroit as a player and as a coach on Phil Garner’s staff.
“He’s the best,” Inge said. “He is such a class act, he really is. He’s a good guy. Great manager, really, really great manager. It’s fun to play for him. He treats you like a grown-up and shows players respect. He’s definitely a players’ manager.”
Inge will travel with the A’s the rest of the season, but he knows his role will be very limited.
“Cheerleader,” he said. “I’ll be an awesome cheerleader. I’m going to make me some pom-pons.”
Inge won’t be able to shake those pom-pons very much as his surgically repaired shoulder won’t allow for it.
“With this surgery, they said for at least a month, you just let it heal,” Inge said. “It’s got to tighten up first and then after that, then it’ll be just basic rehab. Whatever they say, goes.”