ANAHEIM -- Brandon Inge said on Monday his aching left knee feels strong enough to put his legs into his swing for the first time in two months. But the way he's been hitting, manager Jim Leyland wants to feel strongly about putting him in the lineup every day.
"We have to figure something out," Leyland said on Monday, after Inge went 1-for-12 with six strikeouts over three games in Oakland over the weekend. "How much is it bothering? He's hitting .164 since the break with two home runs. I know that certainly has something to do with it. How much of it? I need to try to get a little bit more to the bottom of it, because you just can't go on that way."
Inge obviously is hoping those struggles don't go on much longer. But while he says the patella tendinitis in his hampered knee has responded well to the latest therapy from the Tigers' medical staff, it hasn't done much for his timing at the plate.
That, he says, is his next challenge.
"I've been swinging without my legs for about 2 1/2 months now," Inge said. "There's no question about it. So now that I have my legs back, my swing's adjusting, so I'm not making contact with some pitches that I should right now.
"Now it's just timing. Once my timing gets right, and I get my feet back going the way they should, then I think everything should get back the way it should."
The progress, he believes, is the result of last week's prolotherapy, in which doctors injected his knee with a glucose solution to trigger the healing process. Instead of numbing the knee like a cortisone shot, the desired result is for the microfractures in his tendon to repair themselves.
"I'm starting to feel like I can get my legs again," he said. "I'm actually starting to feel healthy, like I feel I can piece it along, and I don't need any days [off] by any means. I feel better than I have in a long time."
If he feels good enough to not just play every day, but to play well, that would be a big relief for Leyland.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.