DETROIT -- A big-toe injury has had lingering effects for Brandon Inge. But the effects aren't just with the toe anymore -- it has transferred all the way up to his back. Inge was out of the lineup for the second straight day on Saturday due to a lower back spasm. He said the likely culprit for his stiff back was a metal plate he put into his left shoe to protect the toe after he was hit with a pitch on May 29 that caused a small chip fracture. The protective metal device meant Inge's left foot was a couple of inches higher than his right foot, triggering the reaction in his back.
"I just took a step kind of different, and that locked it up," Inge said. Inge's back doesn't hurt, but it locks up on him when he attempts to swing or bend over to field a ball. He said he could hardly touch his toes earlier this week and had to push himself up with his hands on his knees just to get back in an upright position. Doctors worked to realign his back on Friday, and Inge thought his back was in place. He tried to play through the pain, but said he realized after Thursday's game against the Rangers that he didn't feel well enough to continue. "I was 0-for-3 and was lucky just to get one walk," Inge said. Omar Infante started at third base in place of Inge on Saturday, though Inge could return on Sunday, especially since it is a late 8:05 p.m. ET start time and will give his back a few extra hours to rest. "I'll play him tomorrow night if he's ready to play," manager Jim Leyland said. The next step: Joel Zumaya will visit Dr. Charles Melone on Monday and if he gets a good review, he could resume throwing the next day. Zumaya has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 5 after he tore a flexor tendon in his right middle finger while warming up in the bullpen during a game with the Royals. He was scheduled to visit Melone in New York on July 11, but decided to move up the visit because Zumaya had a scheduling conflict. While it may seem Zumaya's return could come sooner rather than later, there is still a long way to go to build up his arm strength. He understands that, but he still expects to return this season. "I know Leyland will not pitch me and put me in the game until I'm 110 percent," Zumaya said. He said he isn't concerned about the visit, especially given Melone's track record with hand injuries. Melone performed wrist surgery on current teammate Gary Sheffield last season to repair a torn tendon while he was still with the Yankees. Sheffield has gone on to lead the Tigers with 18 homers and 69 runs scored this season. "Sheffield's injury was [thought to be] pretty career-ending, and Dr. Melone went in and chopped him up a little bit, and look at him now," Zumaya said. "[Sheffield's] on a rampage right now." New No. 3: Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence that Sean Casey was slotted in the No. 3 spot in the batting order for the first time this season. When teammate Marcus Thames asked about Kevin Slowey, the Twins' starting pitcher on Saturday, Casey told him they both attended the same high school in Pittsburgh. "Does that mean he's gonna throw it right down the middle to you?" Thames responded. Casey and Slowey both attended Upper St. Clair High School and join Kevin Orie as the only three players from the high school to play in the Majors. Casey filled the spot usually occupied by Sheffield while he served a two-game suspension for an on-field incident with umpire Greg Gibson on May 31. Sheffield had played 73 of a possible 78 games in the No. 3 spot in the order. It was Casey's first start of the year in the No. 3 spot, though he was 2-for-2 in pinch-hit situations this season. Thames was the designated hitter in place of Sheffield. "I'll put Casey in there today and see what things look like," Leyland said. Draft signings: The Tigers have agreed to terms with three more picks from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Shortstop Danny Worth, the team's second-round selection out of Pepperdine, became the highest pick to sign with the Tigers this season. Pitcher Emmanuel Miguelez, the team's eighth-round pick out of the University of Miami, and pitcher Gary Perinar, an 11th-round pick out of the University of Minnesota, have also signed. Overall, the Tigers have signed 20 of their 45 selections from this year's Draft. Up next: Jeremy Bonderman (8-1, 3.90) will oppose Scott Baker (2-2, 5.77) in the last of a three-game series on Sunday at Comerica Park. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET. It will mark the fourth time this season the Tigers have appeared on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.