Home Run Derby likely for All-Star Inge
Final Vote winner excited for chance to participate in event
DETROIT -- Now that Brandon Inge is headed to St. Louis for the All-Star Game, winning what some saw as a long shot over Ian Kinsler and others, he's ready to literally swing for the fences in the Home Run Derby.
At this point, he appears to be a likely candidate.
While the National League field of four sluggers is set with Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez, nobody on the American League side has been announced. However, Inge said Thursday night that he received a call by someone with Major League Baseball asking him his interest in taking part in the Home Run Derby Monday night at Busch Stadium. He had told reporters as far back as last weekend that he would love to do it if he had the chance.
Now that he's on the team, the answer was the same.
"I'm pretty sure I'm in it," Inge said Thursday evening from a charity function he and teammate Carlos Guillen organized at Comerica Park. "I talked to a guy a minute ago about it. I was excited about it."
So far, he appears to be one of the few American League sluggers, if not the only one, to tell reporters he definitely wants to do it. Josh Hamilton, who put on a power display at last year's Derby at Yankee Stadium, and defending champion Justin Morneau both said they will skip this year's event. Curtis Granderson hasn't said definitely that he wouldn't do it, but said Wednesday he hasn't been asked and doesn't plan on taking part regardless, pointing to the fact that he isn't a big home-run hitter in batting practice.
Inge leads the Tigers with 19 home runs, 10th among American League players entering Thursday and one ahead of Granderson. Part of that is the product of a revamped approach at the plate that he undertook last offseason, raising the position of his hands to get the bat around quicker.
Just like the All-Star Game has been a dream of his since he was a child, the Derby has been a part of that.
"I figured it would be something to have fun with," he said. "As I grew up as a little kid, I always watched the Home Run Derby. I wouldn't watch the whole game; I couldn't sit there long enough. So I just want to go out there and do that, have fun with it, enjoy it, represent our team the best I can."
As for the debate whether competing in the Derby messes with a hitter's swing, Inge dismissed that notion.
"Nah, that doesn't mess with your swing," he said. "You can play golf. You can do anything you want. It doesn't matter. It's just the point of having fun."
In that sense, he sounded a little bit like his manager when asked about that very same notion last weekend.
"That's the biggest bunch of [baloney] in the history of baseball," Jim Leyland said. "It's showtime and it doesn't affect anything. Half of them try to do it all year long anyway. That's just a nice topic for conversation."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.