Brandon Inge is 35 years old and still reinventing himself. The diminutive catcher turned third baseman looks to extend his career again, this time as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Inge agreed to a minor league deal yesterday that includes an invitation to the Pirates major league camp.
Only 5'11" 190 lbs., the Lynchburg, Virginia native spent his first eleven big league years with the Detroit Tigers. Making the move from part time catcher to playing third allowed Inge to become an everyday player. He demonstrated surprising power (151 lifetime homers) and streaks of clutch run production that culminated in him making in the 2009American League All-Star team. Inge was released by the Tigers last year but managed to catch on with the Oakland A's early in the 2012 season, and he made his mark there in a hurry. In a five game stretch May 6-11,approximately one week after joining the A's, Inge homered and drove in exactly four runs in four of five games. He contributed two hits in the other game. His habit of high strikeout / low BA, however,was not in the Billy Ball mold. Inge dislocated his right shoulder in August (and popped it back in place to continue playing) and re-injured itin early September after a stint on the DL. He had season ending arthroscopic surgery of his right shoulder, performed in Detroit by Dr. Stephen Lemos, who is theTigers' orthopedic surgeon, to repair his labrum.
Inge comes to Pittsburgh hoping to win a job on their bench as a right-handed pinch-hitter and part time corner infielder.