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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2008

Veteran Tiger player Inge not happy he'll be on bench, would rather be traded

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Brandon Inge agreed to a four-year, $24 million contract last year, but now Miguel Cabrera is pegged to start at third base. Brandon Inge agreed to a four-year, $24 million contract last year, but now Miguel Cabrera is pegged to start at third base.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Brandon Inge is angry the Detroit Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera to replace him at third base.

Inge asked the Tigers to trade him after they made the deal at the winter meetings nearly two months ago, but Detroit hasn't accommodated him.

"They're still trying to trade me, but I need to get ready for the possibility that I'm going to spring training with the Tigers," Inge said yesterday, speaking for the first time since the trade. "People have said or written, 'Take your $6 million and be happy sitting on the bench.' But money doesn't make me happy - playing baseball does."

Inge agreed to a $24 million, four-year contract last winter. After talking to team president Dave Dombrowski yesterday, Inge said he is ready to move on and begrudgingly accept his role as a utility player.

"The only reason I'm bitter, mad and frustrated is that I'm probably not going to play as much as I have in the past," he said.

Inge played 469 games at third base the past three seasons.

Inge, 30, plans to work out with Detroit's pitchers and catchers beginning Feb. 15 in Lakeland, Fla., where he will get reacquainted with catching, a position he played for 104 games during the 2003 season.

Inge has a shot to be Ivan Rodriguez's primary backup because Vance Wilson has not recovered from elbow surgery that kept him off the field all of last year.

The versatile Inge also has

major league experience at all three outfield positions. He played shortstop and pitched in college at Virginia Commonwealth.

"I'll play him everywhere but as a pitcher," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I talked to Ingey today and we both agreed that after we discuss his situation during the first or second day of spring training, we're not going to talk about it anymore and we're going to make the best of it."

Inge hit .236 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 151 games last year, when he had 18 errors and probably twice as many spectacular plays on defense.

Cabrera's batting average last season in Florida was .320 and he hit 34 homers with 119 RBIs. In five seasons with the Marlins, the four-time all-star batted .313 with 138 home runs and 523 RBIs.

Detroit traded for Cabrera and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis in early December, dealing six players, including two highly rated prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Inge, one of the most accessible athletes in Detroit, kept his thoughts to himself for weeks and recently was criticized for it.

"I owe everything to my fans, but it wouldn't have done me or the Tigers any good to say, 'I don't know what's going to happen,' or for me to bash anybody about losing my job," Inge said. "My first two hopes were to start at third for the Tigers or to start at another position for the team. Now that it looks like those two options are not going to happen, I thought it was time to talk."



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