Banged-up Inge looks to retool game

Banged-up Inge looks to retool game

ARLINGTON -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave ailing third baseman Brandon Inge a day off for Wednesday's game against the Rangers, combining it with Thursday's scheduled off-day to give him two days away from action. But while Leyland hopes it'll help his painful knees, neither he nor Inge sounded optimistic.

"I've got to think about this one," Leyland said about Inge's situation after Wednesday's win. "I don't know the answer, but I'm concerned about it."

What Inge hopes will help is time to figure out a couple tweaks in his approach at the plate. Whether it reduces the pain in his left knee, he's hoping it raises his average.

"Mentally, I have to figure out how I need to go about this," Inge said. "I need to figure out what's the best course for me to succeed and help out this team."

Team medical officials haven't found a way to fix the microtears in Inge's left patella tendon without forcing him onto the disabled list for longer than 15 days, so Inge continues to try to play. It now seems possible, though, that he could land on the DL anyway if his game continues to suffer.

"I'm not sure about it," Leyland said. "He obviously doesn't want to go on the DL."

Since aggravating his left patella during the Tigers' series against the Cubs in June, Inge is batting .207 (18-for-87) with four extra-base hits -- all home runs -- nine RBIs and 32 strikeouts. His .254 average is his lowest this year since going 1-for-4 on Opening Day.

In the field, Inge said the knee affects him more when he's moving towards the third-base line than towards the hole. However, that wasn't the reason for a couple doubles down the third-base line earlier in the series. Inge said he has been playing further in than usual because of the infield conditions.

The primary concern for Inge right now is at the plate.

"Obviously, I've got the power to drive balls out of here," Inge said. "But I might have to change based on how my knee is. Right now, I'm compensating so much for the knee, I'm messing up my swing bad. I'm not seeing the ball very well. I'm swinging at balls, taking strikes. Everything's kind of off right now because of the knee. I'm going to have to make an adjustment."

That might involve taking a two-strike approach throughout an at-bat and cutting down on the power, or keeping weight off of his front side in his stance. But it's going to wait. Inge planned on spending Wednesday watching the game and getting away from the mental pressure.

"I'm going to have to just figure out what's best," Inge said. "It's hard, really hard, and I'm going to need more of a mental approach. I'm just going to have to [go by] trial and error here for a bit until it feels better."

Depending on the ratio of trial to error, it might not be an option.

"I'm very concerned," Leyland said. "It's not fun to play in pain like that, and it's not fun to watch somebody play in pain."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.