Regner: Determined Inge goes on DL

Regner: Determined Inge goes on DL

Published Apr. 3, 2012 10:55 a.m. ET

The Detroit Tigers placed Brandon Inge on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of a groin strain.

The move buys some time for the Tigers, who must eventually decide what do with Inge, who hit just .180 in 19 Grapefruit League games.

At some point, they'll have to cut him, trade him or hand him one of the 25 roster spots, which would be tough to do because guys like Danny Worth, Clete Thomas and Andy Dirks performed well this spring.

Whenever the Tigers and Inge part ways -- whether it's today, tomorrow or a year from now -- the celebration among many will be a modern Bastille Day.

Perhaps Martha Reeves can lead the parade down Woodward singing "Dancing in The Streets," as our always divided community unites by finally gaining their independence from this scourge that has long plagued the Tigers.

But before you join the carnival, let me ask you a question that a Roman Prefect asked 2,000 years ago, “What evil has this man done?”

Inge is a baseball player. He's always been a baseball player, and in his mind, he'll always be a baseball player.

Certainly, his skills, especially his hitting, have eroded to the point where his major-league career is in serious jeopardy.

Still Inge, like most professional athletes, doesn't want it to end. If he's guilty of anything, it's trying to exit the game under his own terms.

It hardly ever works out that way, though. The Tigers will have to tell Inge when it's over because he'll never admit it to himself.

It's that stubbornness fueled by a competitive drive that has endeared Inge to the Tigers organization, his teammates and an extremely loyal group of fans. But those same traits have made Inge the ire of countless critics.

The hostility often borders on hysterical. Is it so wrong for a player to want to play? You would think his detractors are signing his paychecks.

In an age when many athletes quit on their coach, team, city and fans, far too many people are worked up over a player who has never quit. Inge has given maximum effort every time he's put on the Tigers uniform. He might not have always delivered the desired results, but he never took a play or an at-bat off.

We should all just accept Inge for what he really is: a mediocre baseball player with a gregarious personality that plays well in front of the camera -- nothing more, nothing less.

Once the season begins, our focus will shift to the Tigers winning games.

Inge's focus should be on life after baseball, which will be a difficult adjustment for a player who believes he can still make plays.

And that's actually kind of sad.