SEATTLE -- Brandon Inge is doing about every part of his pregame routine nowadays, short of live batting practice, and he could do that as soon as Saturday. That doesn't mean he'll be playing in games again anytime soon.
With three players having gone through oblique muscle pulls and strains this year, the Tigers have no plans to rush back Inge, and vice versa. He tried to play through it last month and ended up on the 15-day disabled list June 23.
"I'm assuming we're not getting him back until after the [All-Star] break," Leyland said.
Much as Inge wants to play, he isn't going to dispute that timetable. He could probably return sooner if the Tigers absolutely needed him, but there's no way he'd be 100 percent.
"I wouldn't want that injury upon anyone," Inge said. "You breathe, you cough, you twist, you turn, you laugh, and it really feels like somebody's slicing your ribs up every time you do it. It's a jab feeling where it locks you up. I feel like I can play through just about any pain, but once it starts affecting your play -- I mean, it shuts down muscles."
The fact that Inge is doing baseball activities now is a step in itself. He wasn't able to do that until Thursday, and he was able to step in and do plenty once he was cleared. He took batting practice off of a tee and from soft-tossed pitches, and he progressed to hitting against a pitching machine Friday. He also was able to do so some running, play catch and take ground balls. The next step will come when he takes regular batting practice with the team, which he hopes will come Saturday.
That said, he is also heeding a piece of advice he received from teammate Gary Sheffield, himself a tough player who missed just about a month with a strained oblique earlier this year: When you feel fine, take some extra time and make sure it's OK before risking another injury.
"I understand the point there," Inge said, "because you've already spent that long trying to get over it. To rush back and [re-injure it and have to] do it all over again, which is like a month-long process for most people, what's the point? Take a couple days and make sure it's really good."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.