"I'm like, 'He's pitching today. He's not getting here [early],'" Inge said. "I said, 'He's not an athlete. He doesn't get here until 20 minutes before the game.' Nah, I was kidding."
Not long ago, Inge would be charged up for Verlander starts, playing third base behind him and watching him mow down hitters. That's no longer his role, not since his April trade to Oakland. His kids, he admits, were angry for a good month after the Tigers released him, but living in Michigan, they've reconciled their dad's new team with their old leanings.
"They love Verlander, and I love that," Inge said. "I like that they have their fan base here. I've been here longer than any other team, and they live here. That's the way it's supposed to be."
This wasn't the way Inge was hoping to return to Comerica Park, his right arm in a sling after season-ending surgery as he watched his healthy teammates get ready for batting practice on the field. Nevertheless, five months after the move, he was glad to be back.
On the flip side, this wasn't the way the Tigers expected to see Inge or the A's, either. When Detroit released him, they were a team built to contend with trying to fine-tune their roster after a mundane start. The A's were a young team with no expectations looking for some help at third and a veteran presence.
To say the least, Oakland is in a little different position now.
"It's crazy," Inge said. "You wouldn't think it would work out that way. The way I looked at it is I have a new team I can go to, try to prove myself, have some fun again and start playing baseball the way I know I can. I'm glad that they gave me an opportunity to play. I'd like to think that maybe I had something to do with maybe them turning it around."
Inge returned to the area for his shoulder surgery, and he'll stay in Michigan for rehab and workout, using much the same plan he used to get in shape last year. Asked where he'll be next season, he said he'll go to whatever team wants him.